Media-Release - Luke Hoeppner

Research discoveries aimed at how to prevent cancer drug resistance

One of the most prevalent and deadly challenges in cancer treatment is drug resistance – therapies may work for a while but often tumors become resistant and return.  Dr. Luke Hoeppner, leader of the Cancer Biology research section at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, recently received $164,367 from the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation to fund research, “Combating lung cancer resistance to EGFR targeted therapy”.

“Discovering new methods to prevent lung tumor cells from gaining resistance to current therapies will extend and improve the lives of people unfortunately afflicted by lung cancer,” said Dr. Hoeppner, who joined The Hormel Institute in 2015 and previously was a researcher at Mayo Clinic.

“Understanding resistance is critically important – this research will be broadly applicable beyond lung cancer because EGFR mutations are common in other tumor types.”

Individuals who are unfortunately diagnosed with advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer are routinely tested for several common lung cancer-causing mutations. One such mutation occurs in a protein called “epidermal growth factor receptor” or EGFR. Advanced stage lung cancer patients with EGFR mutations are typically treated with a specific EGFR inhibitor drug, which fortunately often halts cancer growth and promotes tumor remission. However, Dr. Hoeppner says lung cancer frequently acquires resistance to these EGFR inhibitor drugs and “sadly cancer returns – usually within a year or so.”

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Dr. Hoeppner and his research team that includes senior postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Sk. Kayum Alam, aim to discover how lung cancer cells escape the anti-cancer effects of EGFR inhibitors and become resistant to this molecular targeted therapy.

“I am very grateful to the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation for generously supporting our studies. This award will enable us to advance our research understanding how cancer cells become resistant to current therapies and will put us in a position to make new discoveries, which will help us successfully compete for long-term National Institutes of Health funding.”

For more information about Dr. Luke Hoeppner’s research visit: