Silvestre Vicent, PhD, earned the IASLC Lung Cancer Young Investigator Award for 2015-2016 and will use it for research at Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA).
KRAS is a common mutation with around 25% of the cases of non-small cell lung cancer containing this mutation. The signaling program triggered by KRAS can be responsible for the final progression of lung cancer. For this reason, finding a targeted therapy for KRAS is sort of the “Holy Grail” in cancer research. Despite all of the previous work into finding this answer, it remains “undruggable” to date. To circumvent this obstacle, Dr. Vicent is focused on one of the KRAS downstream effectors that could unveil novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Dr. Vicent’s preliminary studies identified one of these effectors, the transcription factor FOS-like antigen 1 (FOSL 1), as a key component of the signaling program ignited by mutant KRAS. Studies revealed that FOSL 1 is upregulated in patients harboring KRAS mutations and its high expression is correlated with poor survival in the same subgroup of patients. Dr. Vicent’s goal is to test the functional and mechanistic role of FOSL 1 and to validate its relevance as a potential therapeutic target in KRAS patients.
“Specific targeting of these genes would eventually lead to an improvement of disease-free and overall survival as well as quality of life,” Dr. Vicent said. “Additionally, our previous work has identified a subpopulation of KRAS patients with the worst survival outcome. A rationalized therapeutic intervention targeting newly functionally critical genes in such patient cohort will prevent unnecessary suffering to other patients unlikely to respond to the same treatment.”