In 2018, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounted for 11.6% of the global cancer burden, and caused more deaths than any other tumour type.
The overexpression of TAS1R3, a newly identified taste receptor, has been associated with cancer cell dissemination and metastasis. In this project, researchers are investigating its potential applications as a biomarker, including:
- A prognostic tool to provide information about the patient’s overall cancer outcome
- A patient stratification tool for interpretable decision making in the era of precision medicine
- An innovative therapeutic tool to halt metastatic growth as a way to improve cancer patients’ survival, particularly NSCLC patients.
- To develop a therapeutic monoclonal antibody targeting TAS1R3 in advanced NSCLC patients.
Problem to Solve
Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, with approximately 15% of patients surviving 5 years after diagnosis. Curative surgery is the standard of care for early-stage patients with a good performance status, however, 35-50% of the resected patients relapse after an apparently successful surgical treatment. Importantly, around 75% of patients are diagnosed at advanced stages, when surgery is not possible, with a dramatic drop of the 5-year survival rate to 6% for both sexes. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type and is virtually incurable to date.
María de la Fuente and team have identified TAS1R3 for the first time in circulating tumour cells of advanced NSCLC patients, as a novel biomarker and therapeutic target. They have proven that TAS1R3 provides cells with superior capabilities to disseminate and colonize distal organs. This project proposes the development of a TAS1R3-targeted therapy and diagnostics through the design of a monoclonal antibody. They have developed in vitro and in vivo tools for testing the candidates.