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BCRF Grantee Since

2013

Area(s) of Focus

Peter Kuhn, PhD

Professor of Biological Sciences
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California
Associate Professor of Cell & Molecular Biology
The Scripps Research Institute
Los Angeles, California

Current Research

Patients with breast cancer would benefit significantly from precise characterization of their disease at multiple time points throughout the course of the disease. This can be accomplished by utilizing a simple blood draw as a fluid biopsy. This fluid biopsy can be used to identify rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and also circulating genomic fragments that together provide the opportunity for a complete description of the disease. This project, led by Drs. Kuhn and Hicks, develops and applies the next generation technology to provide this data to the physician to aid in treatment decisions.

Mid-Year Summary

Patients with breast cancer would benefit significantly from precise characterization of their disease at multiple time points throughout the course of the disease. This can be accomplished by utilizing a simple blood draw as a fluid biopsy. This fluid biopsy can be used to identify rare circulating tumor cells and also circulating genomic fragments that together provide the opportunity for a complete description of the disease. This research project, which is being carried out jointly by Dr. James Hicks at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Dr. Peter Kuhn at The Scripps Research Institute, is designed to develop and validate a novel form of fluid biopsy combining the enumeration and genomic analysis of circulating tumor cell with a detailed genetic analysis of free DNA circulating in the blood plasma from the same patient. The goal is to determine which assay (or a high content combination) yields the most relevant information for designing effective treatment for each patient. In this grant period they have validated the methodology in pilot experiments and are poised to compare the two assay types in samples from actual patients, and determine how to best provide this complex data to the physician to aid in breast cancer treatment decisions.

Bio

Dr. Peter Kuhn received his doctorate in Physics from State University of New York, Albany. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Kuhn’s laboratory has developed a reliable way to detect and to characterize CTCs isolated from the blood of cancer patients. His research is focused on the development of a fluid biopsy for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy management of breast, lung, colon, prostate and other tissue cancers.

Dr. Kuhn is the principal investigator of the National Cancer Institute’s Physics Oncology Center on the 4-dimensional biopsy to study the physics and mathematics of cancer metastasis. Finding and characterizing these cells early provides a new opportunity to monitor and characterize the cancer over time and tailor the treatment to the specifics of an individual’s cancer.

Co-Investigators