The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded a new five-year $3.7M grant to Ge Jin, PhD and Bingcheng Wang, PhD, as co-principal investigators, to explore why those living with HIV have a higher risk for certain kinds of cancers, such as lung cancer. Drs. Jin and Wang are members of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's Molecular Oncology Program.
Dr. Jin, professor at the School of Dental Medicine, called the phenomenon “a mystery.”
The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates more than 1.7 million people are newly infected with HIV every year. That’s 1.7 million people who are more likely to get cancer—and get it at an earlier age and at a higher frequency—than 1.7 million people who do not have HIV, Jin said.
“We want to look at the molecular events involved in these processes, and find out why,” he said. “We need to find a better way to detect cancer in these patients at an earlier stage.”
Dr. Jin's co-principal investigator Dr. Wang is the John A. and Josephine B. Wootton Endowed Chair of Research and Professor at the School of Medicine and a researcher at MetroHealth System. They found that the immune cells from HIV patients secrete exosomes and attack lung cells, thus promoting the growth of cancer.
Wang said he believes the grant from NCI will “further investigate this novel mechanism of lung cancer promotion by HIV and develop new therapeutic agents to treat the disease among people living with HIV.”