Thoracic Surgery Research

Division of Thoracic Surgery Thoracic Surgery Research
Thoracic Surgery Research

Investigators at NYU Langone’s Division of Thoracic Surgery conduct basic and clinical research to improve outcomes in lung cancer and mesothelioma patients. Through NYU Langone’s Center for Biospecimen Research and Development, we maintain the thoracic surgery tissue and blood archives, which facilitate laboratory research by matching human specimen resources to scientific need. Funded by the National Cancer Institute since 2006 for mesothelioma and lung cancer research, the center is an Early Detection Research Network biomarker discovery laboratory.

Our investigators have made seminal discoveries in the early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis of pleural mesothelioma using biomarkers, including osteopontin, fibulin-3, the 13 SOMAmer® mesothelioma panel, and HMGB1 and its isoforms.

Harvey I. Pass, MD, and his colleagues seek biomarkers in blood and tissue to help doctors detect lung cancer earlier, when it’s most treatable. They use plasma osteopontin to predict long-term survival in patients with mesothelioma. Dr. Pass and his team designed a novel 14 SOMAmer® Luminex-based assay to diagnose mesothelioma and determine a patient’s prognosis. They collaborated with Michele Carbone, MD, PhD, and Haining Yang, MD, PhD, of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center to investigate the role of HMGB1 isoforms in identifying asbestos exposure in mesothelioma development.

Dr. Pass and his colleagues also study circulating exosomal RNA and microRNA and their prognostic and diagnostic implications for lung cancer. The team, along with Carlo Croce, MD, of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, collaborates with investigators at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia to investigate AKAP4 as a diagnostic biomarker for the disease. They work with industry partners to examine novel informatic and genomic studies of cell-free DNA to diagnose lung cancer.

Dr. Pass’s team also studies the use of NanoString immuno-oncology expression profiles from buffy coat and peripheral blood mononuclear cells as diagnostic and prognostic tools in mesothelioma and adenocarcinoma of the lung. They are working toward the discovery and validation of plasma microRNA profiles that can aid in distinguishing malignant from benign nodules through CT, with eventual blinded validation using archives, such as the National Lung Screening Trial biospecimen bank.

Our thoracic researchers have helped to discover novel mutations in mesothelioma and collaborated with other laboratories to develop treatment strategies based on fibulin-3 expression, including using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. They identified the possible role of simian virus 40 and gene–environment interactions between asbestos and mesothelial cells. They also co-led research that uncovered BAP1 mutations that are responsible for many occurrences of mesothelioma.

Our investigation has led to the publication of research on many proteomic and genomic diagnostic biomarkers in association with industrial collaborators, including Celera, SomaLogic, Menssana Research, Inc., HTG Molecular Diagnostics, Inc., and Integrated Diagnostics, Inc.