Edward Garon, MD, Receives $3.2 Million NIH Grant to Study Immunotherapy Responses in Lung Cancer


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Edward Garon, MD

Edward Garon, MD

Edward Garon, MD, a member of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, has received a 5-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance the understanding of which people with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) respond to immunotherapy.

By accurately selecting those who stand to benefit from this approach, the research has the potential to profoundly change the way that patients with NSCLC are treated. NSCLC accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancers.

Immunotherapy using anti–programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) antibodies has revolutionized the treatment of NSCLC and a growing list of other cancers. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), an immunotherapy drug that was extensively evaluated by Dr. Garon, received accelerated approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2015 for people with NSCLC, with full approval granted in 2016. Dr. Garon’s research laid the foundation for the FDA to approve the drug as first-line treatment for the disease.

With the funding from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Garon and his team aim to define the clinical characteristics and properties of the tumor and immune microenvironment that predict patient response to PD-1 inhibition as well as to create and validate these models. By identifying the features of tumors that prevent current immunotherapies from being effective, Dr. Garon hopes the research can lead to new ways to use immunotherapies to treat people with cancer.

“Anti–PD-1 therapies are among the greatest recent advances in the fight against cancer, and by better understanding who is most likely to respond to these treatments and why, we can develop truly personalized strategies to help people with this disease,” said Dr. Garon. “I am tremendously thankful for the support of the National Institutes of Health and am very excited that we now have the potential to build a new roadmap to improve cancer outcomes.” ■


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