Small Cell Lung Cancer Early Response Assessment using Cell-Free DNA

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is among the deadliest cancers worldwide and is associated with an abysmal survival rate. Given the high tumor mutational burden observed in this cancer type and compelling data from two clinical trials, immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved for use in this cancer type. However, only a minority of SCLC patients treated with immune checkpoint blockade respond to treatment, and we currently have no reliable methods for identifying early which patients will respond and which will not.

Liquid biopsies are an emerging class of techniques for noninvasive tumor profiling. Dr. Chaudhuri’s work specializes in cell-free DNA analysis, where he performs next-generation sequencing on DNA isolated from the plasma component of peripheral blood to track disease. He plans to apply cell-free DNA analysis to SCLC in order to predict responses to immunotherapy earlier than standard-of-care CT imaging. If successful, his work has the potential to enable more precise response-adapted immunotherapy for SCLC.