Dr. Tanya Stoyanova, associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was awarded a $350,000 Idea Development Award from the Department of Defense.
The award will help Stoyanova, a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, to identify new cancer detection and treatment strategies for small cell lung cancer, a highly aggressive form of the disease that accounts for approximately 15% of lung cancers. Known for spreading quickly, most people diagnosed with the disease face low chances of survival beyond five years.
The award will support Stoyanova and her team in testing blood levels of ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L1 — a protein recently discovered by Stoyanova to be a new promising target for small cell lung cancer — from people suffering from the disease. The team will then test use of the enzyme as a biomarker to diagnose and monitor their responses to therapies, while also testing different drugs that target the enzyme as a new potential therapeutic strategy.
“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated mortality in the U.S. and affects active-duty military, veterans and their families,” said Stoyanova, also a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA. “With this study, we hope to uncover new minimally invasive blood-based approaches to diagnose and monitor responses to therapies for small cell lung cancer, and reveal new treatments for patients suffering from the disease.”