Ranee Mehra, MD
My research seeks to improve clinical management of head and neck cancers, with a main research focus of bringing novel targeted therapies into the clinic. Substantial evidence is now available for head and neck cancers and for other cancers indicating that high protein expression of ERCC1, a gene that takes part in the cellular response to DNA damage, predicts resistance to the common therapeutic agent cisplatin. An important goal in personalizing therapy in head and neck cancer is to establish whether ERCC1-guided therapy can spare certain patients the toxicity of high dose cisplatin treatment, while maintaining or improving on patient outcomes. I am collaborating with Fox Chase faculty to utilize highly quantitative immunofluorescence (AQUA) in situ proteomics to demonstrate the range of ERCC1 expression in head and neck cancers, to help identify patients for specific treatment regimens. DNA-directed treatments such as cisplatin are often used together with radiation therapy and targeted therapies such as blockade of proteins that contribute to tumor growth, such as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). I also collaborate with a number of colleagues performing clinical and basic research at Fox Chase to analyze the best use of cetuximab, an antibody that blocks signaling by EGFR, in recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancers.
Another research focus of mine is to improve the treatment of thoracicmalignancies, again with the study of targeted agents for the treatment of lung cancer. I am the principal investigator of a trial to study the agent vorinostat for the treatment of locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer. I also am working with other Fox Chase investigators to evaluate the presence of circulating tumor cells in patients with lung cancer.