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SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Translational Research Team

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SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Translational Research Team: Developing Novel Approaches to Detect and Treat Early Pancreatic Cancer

Team Leader

  • David P. Ryan, MD

    Team Leader
    Chief of Hematology-Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center
    + Full Bio
  • Alec Kimmelman, MD, PhD

    Co-Leader
    Professor and Chair of Radiation Oncology, Perimutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health
    + Full Bio

About This Team’s Research
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) will soon be the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Unfortunately, the standard-of-care is woefully inadequate and few patients are cured, often because tumors are found after they have grown to the point that surgeons cannot remove them. To intercept the disease process, the team will take a comprehensive approach that: 1) tests novel and intensive pre-operative treatments that change the tumor to make surgery possible and; 2) uses patient tissue to grow organoids in the lab, in order to understand what tumor characteristics can be used to predict a patient’s response to the treatment.

While surgery can be curative, it is often not possible. Preliminary clinical trials have demonstrated improved outcomes after surgical removal of all or part of the pancreas by integrating intensive therapies in the preoperative setting. These include the FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy regimen—a combination of the drugs 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan hydrochloride, and oxaliplatin.

In the next generation of clinical trials, the team will evaluate the addition of losartan, a drug that may enhance the efficacy of FOLFIRINOX. Furthermore, since preliminary data suggest that losartan therapy and radiation therapy alter the immune microenvironment, the team will add anti-PD1 immunotherapy and radiation to determine if this strategy can provide additional benefit with FOLFIRINOX and losartan.

The team will also use organoids – tiny colonies of living cells – obtained from patients’ tumors prior to starting treatment, to determine if they can be used to predict patients’ response to FOLFIRINOX and other therapies.  If successful, this team will make possible surgical removal of pancreatic tumors for many more patients and identify what treatments are most appropriate for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Translational Research Team will test new and intensive preoperative treatments to allow more patients to have a complete surgical removal of their tumor. They will conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the addition of losartan, a drug that may enhance the efficacy of the chemotherapy FOLFIRINOX in pancreatic cancer patients by altering the tumor microenvironment. The team will also evaluate the addition of immunotherapy and radiation to FOLFIRINOX and losartan. The team will also use organoids – tiny colonies of living cells from patients’ tumors –to determine if they can be used to predict patient response to FOLFIRINOX and other therapies.

Click here to see a full list of Dream Team members
Click here to see the press release announcement