Improving Treatment Options for Patients With Lung Cancer

The Oliver Lab focuses on mechanisms of drug response and resistance in lung cancer with the goal of improving treatment options for patients with lung cancer.

Lung Cancer: Two Major Subtypes

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and is divided into two major subtypes: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). More than 80% of lung cancer patients have NSCLC, which are typically adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or large cell carcinoma.

These patients are usually treated with combination chemotherapy regimens including a platinum-based compound such as cisplatin. However, only about 30% of tumors respond to therapy and the five-year survival rate is only 15%.

Approximately 20% of patients have small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC is highly responsive to platinum-based chemotherapy with ~80% response rate. However, tumors almost always acquire resistance, and there are currently no targeted therapies approved for these patients. Drug resistance, both inherent and acquired, is a major problem preventing effective lung cancer treatment.

Personalizing Cancer Therapies

The Oliver Lab is interested in understanding mechanisms of therapeutic response and resistance in order to personalize cancer therapies based on the characteristics of a given tumor. Our approach is to integrate human genomic/sequencing data with mechanistic data gleaned from cell culture systems and sophisticated mouse models of lung cancer.

We use mouse models of lung cancer that closely resemble human lung cancer. Genes that are altered in human lung cancer are altered by genetic engineering in mice, or by lentiviral delivery of genes specifically to the mouse lung. To monitor the therapeutic response of mouse lung tumors, we use in vivo imaging technologies (such as micro-CT and bioluminescent imaging). We also use mouse and human cancer cell lines to probe the function of particular genes and signaling pathways.

Other techniques used in the lab include gene expression analyses, genomics, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, lentiviral technologies and high-throughput drug screening.

News & Blog

4
Lung Cancer Research Foundation Awards $1.95 Million in Research Grants
Jan 07, 50805

Lung Cancer Research Foundation Awards $1.95 Million in Research Grants

Health CareHuntsman Cancer Institute, lung cancer, cancer research,

The Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF) announced the awardees of its 2018 Scientific Grant Program today during the Thirteenth Annual Lung Cancer Awareness Luncheon, held at The Pierre in New York City. Through this program, LCRF awarded $1.95 million in research grants to 13 investigators for innovative research focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lung cancer. LCRF received a record-breaking 201 grant applications, representing 116 institutions and 21 countries in 2018. ... Read More

Health Care
A Bad Influence: The Interplay between Tumor Cells and Immune Cells
Mar 19, 50761

A Bad Influence: The Interplay between Tumor Cells and Immune Cells

Health Sciences,Health CareHuntsman Cancer Institute,

Research at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah yielded new insights into the environment surrounding different types of lung tumors, and described how these complex cell ecosystems may in turn ultimately affect response to treatment. The results were published today in Immunity and featured on the print cover of the journal. ... Read More

Health Sciences,Health Care
Developing Better Targeted Therapies
May 10, 50096

Developing Better Targeted Therapies

Health CareHuntsman Cancer Institute, cancer research, precision medicine, lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, community report, clinical trials

Targeted therapy in cancer treatment is often called personalized or precision medicine, according to the National Institutes of Health. Targeted therapies are designed to be more effective and less harmful than other approaches because the drugs are specially designed to meet the individual characteristics of each patient.... Read More

Health Care
 Huntsman Cancer Institute Research Holds Promise for Personalized Lung Cancer Treatments
Sep 16, 49003

Huntsman Cancer Institute Research Holds Promise for Personalized Lung Cancer Treatments

Health CareHuntsman Cancer Institute,

New research from scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah uncovered distinct types of tumors within small cell lung cancer that look and act differently from one another. Scientists also identified a targeted drug combination that worked well with one specific tumor type. The study was published today in Cancer Cell. The findings suggest small cell lung cancer should not be treated as a uniform disease... Read More

Health Care
Trudy Oliver

Trudy G. Oliver, BSc (Hons), PhD
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor
trudy.oliver@hci.utah.edu

Cancer Center Bio