Researcher Spotlight: BOYU HU, MD
THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
Some patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) respond poorly to treatment due to genetic changes that affect primary DNA damage repair (DDR) mechanisms targeted by currently approved agents. Instead, the CLL cells in these patients rely on alternative DDR pathways for survival. Dr. Hu’s LRF research is therefore aimed at evaluating the efficacy of novel DDR inhibitors (RP-3500 and olaparib) to target the remaining mechanisms of leukemia-cell survival in these patients, with the goal of improving response rates and survival in CLL patients.
Dr. Hu is an assistant professor of hematology and hematologic malignancies at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. He is also a 2020 LRF Lymphoma Clinical Research Mentoring Program scholar (now known as the Lymphoma Scientific Research Mentoring Program). “The mentorship and feedback I received during that program from lymphoma experts immensely improved the scientific rigor of my clinical trial,” he says.
Dr. Hu is inspired by his work with patients with lymphoma and CLL and the challenges they face as they experience relapsing disease. “It’s always difficult to see patients go through standard approaches of treatment, incur a relapse of their disease, and me having very little to offer them,” he says. “Designing new therapies that could improve the outcomes of CLL patients and potentially induce a cure is not only challenging and exciting, but also incredibly rewarding.”
Building on the experiences from his LRF research, Dr. Hu hopes to develop an expertise in treating DDR-deficient CLL and lymphoma and hopes to one day lead large-scale clinical trials that can establish new standards of care for patients with CLL and lymphoma.
Dr. Hu’s research project is part of LRF’s Health Equity Initiative, devoted to addressing barriers in access to care and research in lymphoma.