$10.1M Research Agreement with Janssen Focuses on Identification, Management of COPD, Lung Cancer

Avrum Spira
Avrum Spira

BUSM researchers Avrum Spira, MD, MS, Marc Lenburg, PhD, and George O’Connor, MD, have entered into a four-year research collaboration with Janssen Research & Development, LLC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, to identify and develop new approaches for identifying and treating COPD and lung cancer. The work will focus on analyzing data from Detection of Early Lung Cancer Among Military Personnel (DECAMP) consortium, a multidisciplinary translational research program, to advance the development of targeted therapeutics for the interception of COPD and lung cancer.

“Through the identification of molecular biomarkers, we see an opportunity to screen people at risk for COPD and lung cancer and predict those who may be progressing towards disease so that we can intercede and intercept disease progression,” explained Spira, professor of medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine, and principal investigator of the grant. “Working with samples from the DECAMP study and together with Janssen scientists, we hope to advance our ability to identify and understand molecular biomarkers that will aid in the discovery and development of more targeted therapies in the future for these devastating lung diseases.”

Spira and his colleagues are working to develop and validate airway genomic biomarkers that can be used for the early detection of COPD and lung cancer. In addition, the team also will investigate the potential role of the immune system in mediating the development of lung cancer. Further, they are working to identify molecular biomarkers that associate with clinical outcome in patients with COPD and lung cancer. “By determining which biomarkers are involved, we can then target medicines to treat COPD and lung cancer on a molecular level,” added Spira, who is also a pulmonologist at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and director of the BU-BMC Cancer Center.

In addition, Spira is the principal investigator of a national research study (insert)  funded by the Department of Defense (W81XWH-11-2-0161) called Detecting Early Lung Cancer Among Military Personnel (DECAMP), a multicenter consortium involving four military hospitals and seven Veterans Affairs’ facilities.