Vanderbilt University has been awarded a five-year, $8.1-million grant from the National Cancer Institute to serve as a research center in the institute’s prestigious Cancer Systems Biology Consortium.
Directed by Dr. Vito Quaranta, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, the new center will focus on advancing the understanding and treatment of small cell lung cancer.
Small cell lung cancer is a highly aggressive, incurable tumor. The standard of care, based on a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy developed more than 50 years ago, remains largely ineffective.
The Vanderbilt center will combine experimentation with mathematical modeling, computation and machine learning to generate a comprehensive blueprint of the complex dynamics in small cell lung cancer that underlie treatment resistance. Hopefully, new treatment avenues will emerge.
“The knowledge accumulated on small cell lung cancer is extensive.” Quaranta said. “Yet there has been little advance, if any, in treatment for the past half-century. Our multidisciplinary, systems-level approach will break this logjam by looking into gene regulatory and cell-cell communication networks to neutralize strategies small cell lung cancer cells use to evade treatment.”
“The results of NCI’s CSBC are aimed at ultimately improving patient care,” said Jennifer
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