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Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. More than 220,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. Fortunately, the list of treatment options continues to grow with new targeted therapies and immunotherapies.

Now, Moffitt researchers are working on a new type of diagnostic test to identify which lung cancer patients will respond to certain types of drugs before they receive them.

This test uses patient biopsy samples and a microscope to determine if two specific proteins are working  together to tell the cancer to keep growing and dividing – what scientists call a “signaling pathway.”

Patients who test positive may be better candidates for existing targeted therapies that disrupt this pathway. 

So far, the test works in the research laboratory, and scientists like Matthew Smith, Ph.D., are working hard to bring it to patients in the clinical setting. “We’re optimistic that this could work for many of our patients, providing personalized medicine here at Moffitt,” says Smith.