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Coast to Coast Medical Centers Join Forces to Fight A Deadly Form of Lung Cancer

On Friday, November 19, 2021, an initial meeting will open the gates to collaboration between prestigious medical centers nationwide in their common fight against RET positive Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).

The Happy Lungs Project and RETpositive are bringing together researchers, clinicians, and scientists from Stanford, Memorial Sloan Kettering, MD Anderson and Mass General/Harvard Medical School, to collaborate on current research and create a roadmap for conquering non-small cell lung cancer driven by the RET mutation.

Work on RET Positive Non Small-Cell Lung Cancer has been advancing at several institutions independently; however, this joint conversation will facilitate a strategic effort in bringing multiple centers and resources together in order to advance the agenda in collaboration.

“Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths, affecting over 150,000 people in the United States alone. Statistically, lung cancer kills nearly as many people as the next three cancers combined – and more women die of lung cancer than from breast and ovarian cancer combined,” according to the American Cancer Society.

NSCLC accounts for 80-85% of lung cancer cases, and is the most common type of lung cancer in people who do not smoke.  It is more common in women than men, more likely to occur in young people than other types of lung cancer, and often produces a small chance of survival beyond 5 years.

Patients with RET driven NSCLC have fusions between their RET gene and other DNA segments, which can lead to the over-production of proteins that spur the growth of cancer cells. “We all have RET genes in our bodies, a parallel to the light switches in our homes. When a person has a RET alteration, instead of turning on and off as it should, the ‘light switch’ gets stuck in the on-position and causes cells to constantly divide and cancer to grow.” According to Daniel Stromberg, Scientific Liaison for The Happy Lungs Project.

Presenters at the event will include John V. Heymach of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Alexander Drilon of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Justin F. Gainor of Mass General Research Institute / Harvard Medical School, and Steven Artandi of the Stanford Cancer Institute. Additional researchers, clinicians, and pharmaceutical representatives will participate in the follow-up discussion.

The Happy Lungs Project is a newly formed 501C3 public charity whose mission is to support researchers and clinicians in finding dependable treatments and ultimately a cure for RET Positive Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, while providing hopeful and helpful information to empower patients in their own journey and healing.

RETpositive is a patient-driven support and advocacy group that aims to improve the quality of life and life expectancy of RET-positive cancer patients.