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Thoracic Surgery »  Research


Our translational research program has focused on the molecular biology lung cancer, mesothelioma and other thoracic malignancies. A key area of exploration has been the the role of the Wingless-int (Wnt) signaling pathway in lung and other cancers. Wnt genes encode a family of secreted proteins that affect diverse biological processes from embryogenesis to tumorigenesis. Aberrant activation of Wnt signaling is strongly implicated in lung cancer and mesothelioma, two of the most highly lethal malignancies, as well as in other cancers.

Basic and Translational Science

Led by our senior scientists, Dr. Zhidong Xu (left), Dr. Liang You (center) and Dr. Biao He (right) the lab has zeroed in on the role of aberrant Wnt signaling in non-small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma, colorectal cancer, and nasal-pharyngeal carcinoma. Previously, the group showed that hypermethylation silencing in the promoter region of two natural Wnt antagonists, Secreted Frizzled Related Protein (sFRP) and Wnt Inhibitory Factor 1 (WIF-1), was associated with aberrant Wnt pathway activation. They are now actively investigating whether functional restoration of Wnt antagonists will selectively induce apoptosis and suppress tumor growth in these cancers.

Drug Development

The Thoracic Oncology program is focused on bench-to-bedside drug development, pursuing novel therapeutic agents targeting Wnt signaling. Recent evidence also suggests that Wnt signaling plays an important role in stem cell self-renewal. Based on that observation, the lab is screening small molecule inhibitors of the Wnt/Hh signaling pathway to target cancer stem cell populations and terminally differentiated cancer cells. The group is also highly focused on bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC), a subtype of lung cancer more common in Asian populations, women and non-smokers.

Clinical Research

Drs. Sarita Dubey and Dr. Thierry Jahan lead the clinical research program that seeks to offer patients access to the most promising new agents.

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