Lisa Dubow Career Development Award 2012

Andrea Bertotti, M.D., Ph.D. 
Istituto per la Ricerca e la Cura del Cancro, Candiolo, Italy 

IMPROVING TARGETED THERAPY IN COLORECTAL CANCER THROUGH XENOPATIENTS

Grant amount: $100,000 over 2 years

Dr. Bertotti has created a unique collection of “xenopatients”–mice which are implanted and living with more than 300 different human colorectal cancer tumors. Each tumor has been meticulously analyzed for gene expression, exome, and cell pathways. With this grant, he will be able to test (in mice rather than in patients) how specific human tumors with defined genetics respond to specific drugs and combinations. Bertotti’s work will also speed the search for biomarkers—tests that could predict which drug will work for an individual’s specific metastatic colorectal cancer.

Dr. Bertotti’s research marks a milestone for Fight Colorectal Cancer: It is our first-ever two-year $100,000 grant to a scientist whose work fights advanced stage colorectal cancer.

Dr. Bertotti has already made a mark in colorectal cancer research. “Andrea has stood out as one of the most brilliant young scientists of our institution,” said Dr. Paolo Comoglio, Scientific Director of the IRCC. He led “a huge institutional effort” to create the library of genetically analyzed human tumors transplanted into mice. With those human tumor samples, the laboratory will focus on the 40 percent of human metastatic cancer samples in which the tumor is held stable—but does not shrink—when treated with Erbitux (cetuximab).

Genome imageUsing the mouse models, the lab will be able to safely test a combination treatment, adding lapatinib (another drug which works similarly but in a different pathway than Erbitux). The scientists will analyze the cells, looking for biomarkers that predict response to the treatments, as well as other pathways for which new drugs could be developed. If the drugs substantially shrink a subset of tumors, the research could potentially move into clinical trials.

“His work will be ground-breaking and exactly in line with the reason Lisa Dubow created this fund—to support a promising researcher working to advance the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer,” said Carlea Bauman, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer.

Make an investment in colorectal cancer research. Donate to the Lisa Fund today.

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