Mary Reyland, PhD


Cancer Biology


University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Program objectives

To learn experimental techniques in basic research related to cancer biology

Program description

Lung cancer is highly lethal and resistant to existing chemotherapies. Thus, there is a dire need for the development of new drugs for the treatment of this deadly cancer. This can best be accomplished by understanding what makes lung cancer cells grow and survive in the body. Basic research has identified intracellular pathways that cancer cells exploit to enable them to grow at the expense of "normal" tissue. While in normal cells these pathways are highly regulated i.e., they can be turned on or off, many cancer cells have acquired genetic changes that enable these cells to permanently turn on these proliferative pathways. One such genetic change is mutation of a gene known as KRAS. Mutation of KRAS occurs in > 20% of lung cancers, however no selective inhibitor of the K-Ras pathway is currently available for lung cancer. We have identified protein kinase C delta as an intracellular pathway regulated by mutant KRAS in cancer cells that contributes to their ability to grow and metastasize. We propose that this protein represents a new drug target for lung cancers with mutant KRAS. In this proposal we will explore the mechanism by which protein kinase C delta regulates tumor cell growth, and identify lung tumor subtypes most likely to benefit from drugs that inhibit the function of this protein. Successful completion of these "pre-clinical" studies will enable future clinical trials of these agents for the treatment of lung cancers with mutations in the KRAS cancer gene. We anticipate that this strategy will be useful for the treatment of specific subsets of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Our studies will provide information to help to select patients most likely to respond to these novel therapies.
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