News Release: Research

Aug. 25,  2009

Emory/VAMC Researcher Earns Award for Work on Lung Cancer Chemotherapy

News Article ImageMore information about the CHEST Foundation available at chestfoundation.org.

The Chest Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians, has awarded Johann Brandes, MD, PhD, $75,000 over two years to support his research on chemotherapy for lung cancer.

Brandes is assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. He also is a staff physician at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Survival rates for non-small-cell lung cancer remain disappointingly low. Standard treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer often involves chemotherapy with platinum-based DNA-damaging agents such as cisplatin, and taxanes such as paclitaxel.

Recent research in the laboratory suggests that subtle alterations of the DNA, known as methylation, in lung cancer cells can predict cases in which these drugs will be particularly effective. Methylation tends to turn genes off. If a particular gene that helps cells overcome DNA damage is turned off, those cells may be more sensitive to chemotherapy.

Brandes plans to examine tumor samples for their methylation status on two genes that may influence response rates to platinum-based and taxane family drugs. The tumor samples come from 220 patients treated at the Atlanta VAMC for lung cancer between 2000 and 2007. He also plans to look for other genes that may predict whether a tumor will respond to chemotherapy.

"The result of this study can have significant impact, and possibly could allow doctors to tailor chemotherapy for advanced lung cancer to the patient," Brandes says.

More information about the CHEST Foundation is available here:
http://www.chestfoundation.org/foundation/about/

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