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RET research lung cancer

The Happy Lungs Project Supported Research

As an organization, we first and foremost seek to support researchers and clinicians in their work toward a cure for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer caused by the RET mutation. While current treatments like Selpercatinib improve patient outcomes greatly, they are by no means a cure. Some patients develop resistance. Others fail to respond.

We aim to provide the resources necessary to develop treatments for NSCLC caused by the RET mutation, including novel drugs, procedures, and immunotherapies. We will collaborate with those studying the biology of RET-driven malignancies of all types, no matter what their institutional affiliation, so that our efforts can benefit patients afflicted not just by NSCLC, but those suffering from other RET-driven cancers. We will also facilitate development of treatment options for patients who exhibit resistance to existing RET medications. Based upon the advice of our scientific advisory board, we will evaluate late-stage clinical trials which show promise and need funding to complete critical work, as well as novel, early-stage research.

Examples of fundable projects include:


Innovative clinical protocols for testing of individualized cancer treatments.

Drug Repurposing

Drug repurposing for mutation-driven cancer – funding this work will allow researchers to test existing drugs and combinations of drugs to determine effectiveness in patients with RET mutations and those with resistance to targeted RET therapies.

Drug Development

Targeted-drug development based upon tumor sequencing and individualized medicine.


Immunotherapy tailored to recognize specific RET epitopes.

Initial funding

The Happy Lungs Project is pleased to have funded its first research grant at MD Anderson which will:

1. Characterize RET Mutations

Characterize RET mutations and elucidate resistance mechanisms from newly generated cell lines and animal models.

2. Determine RET Sensitivity

Determine the sensitivity of individual patient RET mutations to existing RET inhibitors. Investigate drug repurposing to combat RET inhibitor clinical resistance through novel application of single drugs, or new therapeutic combinations or cocktails of medications.

3. Develop T-cell Receptors

Develop T-cell receptors with therapeutic potential against RET-driven NSCLC, or other cancer vaccine-based strategies.

4. Generate RET Targeted Drugs

Generate new RET-mutation targeted drugs. Use the knowledge gained by characterizing the mutations to design more effective, selective, and more brain-penetrant medications.

We funded these initiatives because they could provide data for rapid advancement of NSCLC care, and potential treatments for those who have developed resistance to current RET inhibitors. However, this research may be applicable to other cancers caused by the RET mutation such as thyroid cancer and colon cancer, as well as other NSCLC caused by other genetic mutations.

Our mission is to find and facilitate the most promising science anywhere in the world which may benefit those facing RET-driven malignancy. The small percentages of RET found in any one form of cancer have made RET positive malignancies difficult to study at any single institution. Thus, RET-related diseases have been under-funded and under-researched. We can change that by supporting and bringing together the clinicians and researchers who are focused upon RET related disease, and in turn, change the outcome for RET+ patients.

Your support saves lives.