June 21, 2023

Faculty pair honored with Top Paper Award

The Molecular Therapeutics Research Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has honored two Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers with the Top Paper Award.

Suresh Balasubramanian, M.D., assistant professor of Oncology and a member of the Hematology Oncology and Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis Multidisciplinary teams at Karmanos, and Guojun Wu, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology, received the recognition during the 2023 Molecular Therapeutics Annual Research Symposium in May.

“This award recognizes the outstanding science done by MT Research Program members,” said Asfar Azmi, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology for the WSU School of Medicine and leader of the MT Research Program at Karmanos. “In order to foster high-quality science and promote high-impact publications, the MT Program leadership instituted the Top Paper Award recognizing one basic science paper and one clinical science paper.”

The MT Program Advisory Committee and program co-leaders selected the awardees from papers published in the previous 12 months. Criteria included the impact of the journal, the clinical impact of the research and its relevance to Karmanos’s mission as a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Dr. Balasubramanian was the corresponding author of “Efficacy analysis of different FLT3 inhibitors in patients with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome,” published in the November 2022 issue of eJHaem.

Suresh Balasubramanian, M.D., right, recieves his Top Paper Award.

He played a role in the study’s design, analysis and completion, which focused on comparing the two biological classes of FLT3 inhibitors as monotherapy in cases of relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia.

“There is no data if one is better than the other, so we conducted a meta-analysis of all FLT3 inhibitors that were tested in clinical trials as a monotherapy,” Dr. Balasubramanian said. “Our analyses showed that there was a trend toward a higher pooled ORR in patients treated with type 2 FLT3 inhibitors.”

The most recent information shows that Gilteritinib (type 1 inhibitor) as a post-transplant maintenance therapy wasn’t as effective as Sorafenib (type 2 inhibitor).

“These results underscore the need for prospective studies,” Dr. Balasubramanian said. “I am happy that our work is recognized amongst the various high-impact submissions from my colleagues.”

Dr. Wu is the corresponding author of “FOXQ1 recruits the MLL complex to activate transcription of EMT and promote breast cancer metastasis,” published in Nature Communications in November 2022.

Guojun Wu, Ph.D., right, is presented with his Top Paper Award.

He designed and oversaw the project, which took about 10 years to complete. The team’s studies explored the possibility of targeting FOXQ1, a pan-cancer driving oncogene, to benefit treatment outcomes across six cancer types, including triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC.

“We identified a novel protein-to-protein interaction that is responsible for FOXQ1-promoted in TNBC progression,” Dr. Wu said. “Targeting this interaction, instead of the protein itself, will provide an unprecedented strategy to combat tumor progression driven by FOXQ1 in many cancer types.”

Dr. Wu credited the many faculty at Karmanos, WSU and other universities who contributed at different stages of the decade-long project.

“I am honored to be granted this award and would like to thank the MT Program leadership for their acknowledgment of the importance of our research.”

Originally published by Karmanos Cancer Institute here.

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