Lung cancer research

​​​Exploring novel therapeutic options for the treatments of small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

Dr Mohamed Saad 

Dr Mohamed Saad’s grant is generously funded by Cure Cancer.

He is a Research Scientist at the University of Adelaide. 

Dr Mohamed Saad’s journey in the field of cancer research has been shaped by his passion for unravelling the intricate mechanisms of cancer, and a relentless commitment to making a tangible impact on the lives of lung cancer patients. He is inspired daily by the potential to bridge the gap between scientific discoveries and clinical application, ultimately developing novel therapeutic options that improve the prognosis and quality of life for those affected by lung cancer.  

New treatment options urgently needed for SCLC

Lung cancer is the most lethal and common cancer worldwide. In Australia, it is the leading cause of cancer death and the fifth most common cancer diagnosed, accounting for 9% of all cancers. Lung cancer comprises two main subtypes: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which account for ~85% and ~15%, respectively, of all diagnoses.  

SCLC is a highly aggressive neuroendocrine malignancy which is detected in two thirds of SCLC patients at a late stage, with a dismal 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. This poor outcome is largely due to the lack of progress in the treatment of SCLC over the last three decades, which has relied largely on chemotherapy. Despite initial high response rates, chemotherapy is associated with rapid disease relapse due to acquired chemoresistance. 

Dr Mohamed Saad’s Research

Mohamed and his team have been studying lung tumour biopsies from SCLC patients, and preliminary data reveals that protein levels of the enzyme ADAM17 are elevated in these biopsies. 

Mohamed hypothesises that the specific targeting of ADAM17 will suppress the development of SCLC. 

This project has high translational potential in SCLC to identify ADAM17 as a new therapeutic target, which could transform current approaches in the management of the disease and improve treatment response rates and survival outcomes.  

Mohamed’s findings will also generate new insights into how ADAM17 promotes SCLC, and thus significantly impact on research fields beyond those on SCLC. The research will also pave the way to establish a framework focused on targeting ADAM17 to provide SCLC patients with precision medicine.  

The impact of funding for lung cancer research

As an early-career researcher, Mohamed is acutely aware that limited funding opportunities and fierce competition for grants make it exceptionally challenging for emerging researchers to embark on and sustain their projects - particularly when those projects are seen as innovative, and therefore, high-risk. 

“The journey of an ECR, while filled with enthusiasm and the promise of scientific discovery, is often marked by several significant hurdles - most importantly, securing sustainable funding to support research endeavours,” says Mohamed.  

“Cure Cancer funding provides essential financial support for ECRs like me, allowing us to pursue innovative and high-impact research projects that might otherwise be financially challenging. My ultimate career goal is to become a highly successful and independent investigator studying the role of proteases and cytokines in cancer development. This Cure Cancer grant is therefore a vital stepping stone in my career development, which will allow me to apply for major funding schemes including NHMRC Investigator grants.” 

The grant will also support Mohamed’s ongoing exposure to a high level of strategic mentorship from senior academics, as well as establishing and maintaining a strong collaborative network. 

“For anyone else embarking on a similar career, I would offer the following words of encouragement: follow your passion, be resilient and stay curious!”

Together, we can cure cancer.

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