Health: Of Mice, Men, and Certain Lung Cancers

The Story:

A researcher working at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has made promising findings about the optimal treatment of certain lung cancer tumors. The researcher is Christine Brainson, and her work appears in the October 2021 issue of the journal Advanced Science.


The paper focuses on EGFR-driven adenocarcinoma, a type of non-small cell lung cancer that happens in both smokers and non-smokers. It is a leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.  One commonly used treatment for such lung cancers involves tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs).

One problem, though, is that many patients develop a resistance to TKI treatment. The challenge faced by Dr. Brainson and those working with her, then, is to overcome that resistance and let the TKIs work their magic.

In Pill Form:

Brainson’s team activated EGFRs in the lung cells of a mouse model, creating tumors in the lower parts of the lungs. This allows them to test whether different cells in the lung could ‘become’ tumors when EGFR is activated using a system to grow the cells outside the mouse. That in turn allows them to create “tumoroids” outside of the mouse and to study the tumor initiation process with care. They have clarified the targeted therapies that are most promising as a supplement to TKIs, in mice and men.

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