Researcher Spotlight: Boyu Hu, MD

University of Utah/Huntsman Cancer Institute

Gene mutations and chromosomal alterations found in relapsed/refractory
chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) makes the disease more resistant to currently approved therapies and prone to earlier relapses. While these gene changes are advantageous to leukemia’s growth and proliferation, they also create new dependencies in leukemia that can be directly targeted for therapeutic benefit. Dr. Boyu Hu’s LRF research project is an investigator-initiated clinical trial, examining the use of talazoparib (Talzenna) and venetoclax (Venclexta) to directly target these vulnerabilities in relapsed/refractory CLL. If this targeted combination therapy is found to be safe and effective, it would be the first treatment in CLL to directly use biomarkers within the disease as predictors of response. “The spectrum of the diseases within lymphoma makes the field very interesting to perform research. On one hand, we have patients who are cured with conventional chemotherapy and on the other, we have patients who have absent or short responses to treatments,” says Dr. Hu. “This heterogeneity in the diseases can be partially explained by gene mutations within each lymphoma that gives the lymphoma a survival advantage.”

Dr. Hu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah/Huntsman Cancer Institute. His interest in lymphoma research led him to work with Dr. William Wierda, MD, PhD, and other researchers during his fellowship training at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Together, they have described the genetic landscape within CLL and its effects on the disease course and survival outcomes. Throughout his time as a researcher, Dr. Hu has had the opportunity to showcase his findings at multiple international conferences and has published his work in multiple high-impact journals.

Dr. Hu’s goal is to become an independent clinical investigator and clinical trialist. “The panel of physicians and researchers that LRF has assembled as my mentors are internationally-recognized experts in lymphoma and clinical trial research who will help ensure the proper design, execution and analysis of my proposed clinical trial. Furthermore, they will be instrumental in my career development into an independent clinical investigator.”