Dr. Lyons Receives ACS Mission Boost GrantNov 3, 2021
|We are excited to announce Dr. Traci Lyons, associate professor with the Division of Medical Oncology, is the recipient of the Mission Boost Grant from the American Cancer Society.
Historically, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has focused its investments on grant mechanisms that help launch the careers of investigators in cancer research, funding some of the brightest minds in cancer research providing training for many health care professionals, and broadly expanding knowledge about cancer biology in cells, animals, and humans, and about cancer health services and disparities. The ACS Mission Boost Grants (MBG) have a different focus in that they are designed to support select current and past ACS grantees specifically for the translation of their research to human testing.
The objective of Dr. Lyons research proposes the hypothesis that SEMA7A is an identifiable risk factor for breast cancer progression that would be monitored in high risk women. Furthermore, through this research Dr. Lyons proposes to perform pre-clinical trials that target identified therapeutic vulnerabilities of SEMA7A+ tumors.
With regard to SEMA7A expression as a predictor of risk and/or prognosis, Dr. Lyons aims to obtain and perform immunohistochemistry on normal breast tissues from women within five years of recent childbirth to identify whether SEMA7A expression is a risk factor for developing breast cancer.
Dr. Lyons and her team have identified the therapeutic vulnerabilities of SEMA7A by using FDA approved targeted therapies. Specifically, by showing that SEMA7A expressing tumors are highly dependent on pro-survival signaling mediated by PI3K, Akt and Bcl-2 and as such are sensitive to alpelisib and venetoclax, which are approved for breast cancer patients. Additionally, it has been shown that SEMA7A creates an immunosuppressed microenvironment that can be reversed by PD-1/PD-L1 targeting in mouse models. The performance of pre-clinical trials in mice with SEMA7A-expressing tumors to determine whether the clinical trials is proposed for patients with SEMA7A+ breast cancer.
According to Dr. Lyons the expected outcomes from this research will identify whether a SEMA7A and a biomarker could identify alternative treatments that could positively impact thousands of breast cancer patients.