Discovery featured in Cancer Immunotherapy journal PLOS ONE

Shujun Liu - The Hormel Institute

The Hormel Institute’s Dr. Shujun Liu, head of the Cancer Epigenetics and Experimental Therapeutics section, and other researchers from Mayo Clinic and SiChuan University, including Drs. Fei Yan, Jiuxia Pang, Yong Peng, Julian R. Molina, and Ping Yang, had groundbreaking research highlighted in PLOS this week.

The article “Elevated Cellular PD1/PD-L1 Expression Confers Acquired Resistance to Cisplatin in Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells,” was selected to be included in the PLOS Editor’s Picks collection on Cancer Immunotherapy. This Picks Collection highlights several immuno-oncology papers from the past few years across PLOS journals, primarily from PLOS ONE, and Liu’s research was chosen by editors due to his respected contribution to the field.

“Our discoveries shed light on the molecular biology of resistance to cisplatin, an important drug used to control many cancers. Although benefits are seen initially, sadly, many patients receiving cisplatin therapy can develop resistance to the drug and relapse,” said Dr. Shujun Liu.

“We identified new therapeutic targets which open an entire new window of targeted agents to eradicate those cells that become resistant to this chemo drug’s effectiveness. Our hope is this will prevent cancer from progressing and help protect and extend human lives.”

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy medication used to treat a number of cancers. This includes testicular cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, mesothelioma, brain tumors and neuroblastoma. Specifically, the prognosis of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) remains one of the worst of all malignancies.

Liu’s research, in terms of practical use, highlighted the PD1-PD-L1-DNMT1/c-KIT cascade as an unappreciated therapeutic target, opening a new widow of utilizing their targeted agents, in a single or combination form, to treat patients with relapsed/refractory SCLC, and potentially, across different types of cancer .