Top Paper awarded to two Karmanos researchers in Molecular Therapeutics Research Program

The Molecular Therapeutics (MT) Research Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute honors two research members with the Top Paper Award: Suresh Balasubramanian, M.D., member of the Hematology Oncology and Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis Multidisciplinary Teams at Karmanos, as well as assistant professor of oncology at Wayne State University’s (WSU) School of Medicine, and Guojun Wu, Ph.D., associate professor in basic science at WSU. Both were awarded 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., leader of the MT Research Program at Karmanos and associate professor of oncology at WSU School of Medicine. “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’ mission as a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Dr. Balasubramanian’s Top Paper

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.

Dr. Balasubramanian 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,” said Dr. Balasubramanian. “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,” said Dr. Balasubramanian. “I am happy that our work is recognized amongst the various high-impact submissions from my colleagues.”

Read the study here.

Dr. Wu’s Top Paper

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.

He designed and oversaw the project, which took around ten years to finish. The team’s studies explored the possibility of targeting FOXQ1, a pan-cancer driving oncogene, to benefit patients’ treatment outcomes across six cancer types, including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

“We identified a novel protein-to-protein interaction that is responsible for FOXQ1-promoted in TNBC progression,” said Dr. Wu. “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 credits the many faculty at Karmanos Cancer Institute, departments of WSU and other universities who have contributed at different stages of this 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.”

Read the study here.

For more information about molecular therapeutics research at Karmanos, visit the Molecular Therapeutics Research Program web page.