Eddy S. Yang, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chairman for Translational Sciences at UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Department of Radiation Oncology received a grant to investigate “Refining Precision Oncology Using Complementary Blood Analytes.” This research proposal was put together by the UAB Molecular Tumor Board and Precision Oncology Working Group comprising a multi-disciplinary team of physicians and researchers to capitalize on unique expertise in both clinical and genomic realms to appropriately integrate multiple data types. The research group’s overarching goal is to enhance precision oncology by integrating multiple genomic assays of circulating nucleic acids to characterize tumor profiles and immune response with the tumor mutations to generate a more complete tumor molecular profile, refine treatment algorithms and ultimately increase the percentage of patients that experience improved outcomes with precision oncology. They propose to gather data to demonstrate the utility of multiple orthogonal assays to generate more comprehensive molecular profiles. They will measure small RNAs, immune repertoire, and mutational profiles longitudinally in blood to further characterize tumor evolution before, during, and after therapy. They hypothesize that this comprehensive analysis of multiple genomic assays from patient blood combined with tumor sequencing will improve their predictions for ideal therapies and improve patient outcomes by generating a targeted panel to assess the most informative markers. To test their hypothesis, they propose the following: Aim 1: To collect blood in patients enrolled in the STRATA Oncology Trial at the time of enrollment, one month into therapy, and at time of disease progression, Aim 2: To generate and analyze small RNA profiles from blood, Aim 3: To generate and analyze the immune repertoire in blood, and Aim 4: To correlate blood analytes with tumor mutational status and response to biomarker-directed therapy.

“I am extremely excited about receiving the CGM pilot grant and look forward to working with many investigators at UAB and HudsonAlpha to uncover new biomarkers that will refine precision oncology care for our cancer patients,” said Dr. Yang.  “We hope to generate exciting data that will lead to future funding support to ultimately improve outcomes for our patients.”

The research group comprises Dr. Yang as the PI, Sara J. Cooper, Ph.D., Faculty Investigator at HudsonAlpha as the Co-PI, eight investigators from UAB and three investigators from HAIB. They recently formed the Precision Oncology Working Group, a separate but complementary forum, engaging investigators of different specialties and expertise which also includes investigators from HudsonAlpha – in order to provide the highest quality of precision oncology care and to integrate precision oncology into routine cancer care.