The Butler Family Foundation Fund for Cancer Research supports The Cunniff Lab in effort to discover and advance treatments for malignant mesothelioma

November 30, 2022 by Kate Strotmeyer

Funding from the Butler Family Foundation will support work focused on identifying signature biomarkers most responsive to a new MM treatment.

The Cunniff Lab has received funding from the newly established Butler Family Foundation Fund for Cancer Research at the University of Vermont Cancer Center to support research focused on malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that effects the lining of the lungs or abdomen of people typically exposed to asbestos fibers. In rare instances this deadly disease is hereditary in nature. The Butler Fund was established by the Butler family in memory of two loved ones lost to mesothelioma.

The Cunniff Lab, in collaboration with RS Oncology, LLC, a biotechnical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been working on the development of a novel drug known as RSO-021 for malignant mesothelioma and other diseases. RSO-021 is a novel anti-cancer drug that causes tumor cell death by targeting a specific enzyme critical to malignant mesothelioma cell survival. In contrast, normal cells are less dependent on this enzyme and are spared. 

RS Oncology is currently treating patients with RSO-021 as part of its on-going Phase 1/2 MITOPE clinical trial in the United Kingdom. The new funding from the Butler Family will support work in the Cunniff Lab focused on identifying signature biomarkers most responsive to this new treatment. The results of this work will allow for tailored patient treatment with the hopes of leading to enriched patient response and better overall patient survival. The Cunniff Lab has already identified numerous potential biomarkers from RNA sequencing data and will utilize funds from this grant to investigate the nature of these biomarkers. 

In addition to identifying potential biomarkers, the Cunniff Lab serves as a primary lab for translation research using patient tissue from the RS Oncology sponsored MITOPE clinical trial. These translational samples provide a wealth of information further elucidating the underlying biology of the redox signaling pathway and cancer progression. Support from the Butler Fund will help ensure this important work is accomplished. 

To learn more about the work being conducted in the Cunniff Lab, visit their website at To find more information about RS Oncology, visit

Related: UVM Cancer Center Research Leads to First-of-Its-Kind Clinical Trial of Mesothelioma Treatment