Project title: Treating NETs via synthetic lethality

Michael German, MD University of California, San Francisco

Michael German, MD
  • Status: Completed
  • Year(s): 2016
  • Grant Type: Investigator
  • Research Type: Translational
  • Primary Tumor Site: Pancreas
  • Area of Inquiry: Signaling/drug targets
  • Article/Video: Click Here
  • Also seen in January 2017 eUpdate

General Description

Researchers will test an FDA approved inhibitor of MEK1/2 (FDA approved for melanoma) in preclinical models of neuroendocrine tumors. The results will provide insight into the unique mechanisms that drive neuroendocrine cancer growth. Positive results of an already approved drug could speed the path from the bench to the bedside to pave the way for clinical trials.

This project is based on the concept of “synthetic lethality.” This concept originated in genetics where synthetic lethality occurs between two genes when mutation of either alone is compatible with life but a mutation of both leads to death. Thus, targeting a synthetic lethal partner to a cancer-relevant mutation kills cancer cells and spares normal cells.

The results will provide insight into the unique mechanisms that drive neuroendocrine cancer growth; and with positive results from the preclinical studies, use of an FDA approved drug may provide rapid translation to patients with neuroendocrine cancers including pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer.


Chamberlain CE, German MS, Yang K, Wang J, VanBrocklin H, Regan M, Shokat KM, Ducker GS, Kim GE, Hann B, Donner DB, Warren RS, Venook AP, Bergsland EK, Lee D, Wang Y, Nakakura EK. A Patient-derived Xenograft Model of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors Identifies Sapanisertib as a Possible New Treatment for Everolimus-resistant Tumors. Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 Dec;17(12):2702-2709. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-17-1204. Epub 2018 Sep 25.

Additional Details

  • City: San Francisco
  • State: California
  • Grant Duration: 2 years
  • Awards: No information
  • Sponsor: Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation


NETRF funds laboratory research to understand the development of neuroendocrine tumors and translational research to explore new concepts in treatment. Research grant descriptions and research updates from NETRF are not intended to serve as medical advice. It can take years for research discoveries to be fully validated and approved for patient care. Always consult your health care providers about your treatment options.

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