Upstage Lung Cancer

Using performing arts to raise awareness and funding for lung cancer research

Research We Fund

Upstage Lung Cancer is proud to have funded over $1 million in lung cancer research.

2018-2019: LUNG CANCER DETECTION BY CRISPR-BASED DETECTION OF CIRCULATING TUMOR DNA

This grant was funded in part by Lungevity

Edwin Yau, MD, PhD
Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY


Currently, computed tomography (CT) is available as a tool for the early detection of lung cancer in high-risk individuals. Unfortunately, it has a high false-positive rate: less than 5% of people with nodules found through CT actually have lung cancer. Apart from the distress associated with false positives, individuals may have to undergo invasive procedures, such as a biopsy, to rule out lung cancer.

Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is DNA released from dying cancer cells into the bloodstream. Individuals with early-stage lung cancer may have ctDNA in their blood, even when the cancer is localized. CRISPR-Cas technology is a novel DNA modifying tool that can be used to develop sensitive, specific, and economic ctDNA assays. Dr. Edwin Yau will develop a CRISPR-Cas-based blood test to detect ctDNA in the blood of individuals suspected of having lung cancer. While the immediate goal of the project is to evaluate this blood test in individuals who have already undergone a CT scan, the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a blood test for screening all individuals.