Drs. Susumu Kobayashi and Alexandre Reuben Announced as Recipients of EGFR Resisters/LUNGevity Research Award

Researchers aim for innovative approaches to overcome drug resistance in patients living with EGFR-positive non-small cell lung cancer
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Linda Wenger
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WASHINGTON, DC (November 1, 2023) – LUNGevity Foundation, the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused nonprofit organization, is thrilled to announce the recipients of the EGFR Resisters/LUNGevity Research Award for EGFR-Positive Lung Cancer.

EGFR Resisters, a vibrant patient-led community advocating for improved treatment options for patients with EGFR-positive lung cancer, has partnered with LUNGevity for the second time to support high-impact research focused on EGFR-positive lung cancer.

“We are pleased to partner with LUNGevity again on patient-directed research to address the unmet needs of the EGFR-positive lung cancer community,” said Kristen Kimball, patient advocate with the EGFR Resisters. “This research focuses on a dreaded challenge that many patients will face during their treatment journey—drug resistance.” 

This collaboration aims to fund research with the potential to transform the outcomes for patients diagnosed with EGFR-positive lung cancer by ultimately changing EGFR-positive lung cancer into a chronic or curable condition. 

“Targeted therapies, such as osimertinib – an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) – have provided impressive results in many patients. However, these treatments inevitably leave behind a few cancer cells, called drug-persistent tumor cells, or DPTCs. These are the cells that eventually grow into tumors that are resistant to the TKI,” explains Upal Basu Roy, PhD, MPH, executive director of research at LUNGevity Foundation. “The two projects selected this year aim to address drug resistance using unique approaches – an immunotherapy modality that uses engineered immune cells and an antibody-drug conjugate that targets a protein called CD74 found on EGFR-positive lung cancer cells.” 

The recipients of the 2023 EGFR Resisters/LUNGevity Research Award for EGFR-Positive Lung Cancer are:

Susumu Kobayashi, MD, PhD 
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 
Targeting CD74 to Overcome Resistance to EGFR Inhibitors in Lung Cancer 

Dr. Kobayashi and his team recently identified CD74, a novel gene that plays a critical role in the development of DPTCs. In vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that increased levels of CD74 block the death of the tumor cell despite being treated with a TKI and allow tumor growth. The researchers hypothesize that eliminating CD74-positive cells by CD74-antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) may block the emergence of DTPCs, which are responsible for the cancer coming back. If successful, this preclinical work in cell culture systems and animal models will offer a novel approach to eliminate drug resistance in patients with EGFR-positive lung cancer treated with TKIs. 


Alexandre Reuben, PhD 
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center 
Eliminating Drug-Tolerant Persister Cells Through T-cell Engineering 

In previous studies, Dr. Reuben and his team have identified several antigens, or protein fragments on the cell surface, that are unique to DTPCs following treatment with EGFR TKIs. The team followed up on this work by developing a library of receptors that can be engineered into immune cells to allow the immune cells to recognize and destroy tumor cells that remain after TKI treatment. If successful, this work lays the foundation for using a new approach to block DTPCs and possibly prevent the development of drug resistance in the majority of patients who are living with EGFR-positive lung cancer. 


About EGFR Resisters 

EGFR Resisters is a grassroots community of over 4,800 patients and caregivers impacted by EGFR-positive lung cancer from 90+ countries, dedicated exclusively to improving outcomes for people with EGFR-positive lung cancer by changing EGFR-positive lung cancer into a manageable, chronic disease. The group uses the strength of its collaborations to drive important research questions and fund novel research and clinical trials. For more information about the EGFR Resisters, please visit www.egfrcancer.org 


About LUNGevity Foundation

LUNGevity, the nation’s leading lung cancer organization, is transforming what it means to be diagnosed and live with lung cancer. LUNGevity seeks to make an immediate impact on quality of life and survivorship for everyone touched by the disease—while promoting health equity by addressing disparities throughout the care continuum.

  • Through research, we use an innovative and holistic approach to finding lung cancer earlier when it is most treatable; advance research into new treatments so people may live longer and better; and ensure a diverse, vital pipeline of investigators for the future of the lung cancer field.
  • Through advocacy, we foster groundbreaking collaborations to ensure all people have access to screening, biomarker testing, and treatment breakthroughs.
  • Through community, we educate, support, and connect people affected by lung cancer so that they can get the best healthcare and live longer and better lives.

Comprehensive resources include a medically vetted and patient-centric website, Patient Gateways for specific types of lung cancer, a toll-free HELPLine for personalized support, international survivor conferences, and tools to find a clinical trial. All these programs are designed to help us achieve our vision—a world where no one dies of lung cancer. LUNGevity Foundation is proud to be a four-star Charity Navigator organization.

Please visit www.LUNGevity.org to learn more. 


About Lung Cancer in the US

  • About 1 in 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.
  • More than 238,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
  • About 60%-65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers.
  • Lung cancer takes more lives than the next three leading cancers (colorectal, breast, and prostate) combined.
  • Only 25% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, but if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance of 5-year survival improves dramatically.