Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D.

New Chief Medical Advisor

Internationally Renowned Cancer Immunologist Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D. Joins the Lustgarten Foundation

The Lustgarten Foundation announced today the appointment of Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D., the immediate past president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), as its new Chief Medical Advisor. Dr. Jaffee is an internationally recognized expert in cancer immunology, with specific expertise in preclinical and early clinical development of immunotherapies for pancreatic cancer.

The fluid that feeds tumor cells

Before being tested in animals or humans, most cancer drugs are evaluated in tumor cells grown in a lab dish. However, in recent years, there has been a growing realization that the environment in which these cells are grown does not accurately mimic the natural environment of a tumor, and that this discrepancy could produce inaccurate results. In a new study, MIT biologists analyzed the composition of the interstitial fluid that normally surrounds pancreatic tumors, and found that its nutrient composition is different from that of the culture medium normally used to grow cancer cells.

Genome-Wide Analysis Reveals New Strategies to Target Pancreatic Cancer

For some cancers, initial treatment with chemotherapy brings positive, but only temporary, results: tumors shrink, but then rebound as the cancer becomes drug-resistant. This pattern of remission-resistance-relapse is particularly true for pancreatic cancer, an aggressive disease in which early success is often countered by eventual disease progression.

To wit: The one-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 20 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. The five-year rate is just 7 percent.

The reason: Current multidrug chemotherapy regimens targeting pancreatic cancer typically do not fully eradicate all cancer cells, leaving behind drug-resistant cells that harbor aberrant stem cell properties and can drive tumor regrowth and metastasis.

Mayo Clinic finds 3 factors may extend life for pancreatic cancer patients

 A new study from the Mayo Clinic found that a pre-surgery treatment plan may help extend life for advanced pancreatic cancer patients.

According to Mayo researchers, most pancreatic cancer patients whose tumors grow outside the pancreas and encompass veins and arteries have been told the cancer is inoperable and they should prepare for an average survival time of 12 to 18 months.

But, the new study found a pre-surgery treatment plan focused on three factors can extend life years beyond that. The three factors include extended chemotherapy before surgery, a CA 19-9 tumor marker that fell to normal level after chemotherapy, and a tumor that, when surgically removed, was found to be all or mostly dead due to chemotherapy.

PARP inhibitors can shrink tumors in pancreatic cancer patients with specific mutations

Switching pancreatic cancer patients to the PARP inhibitor rucaparib as maintenance therapy instead of continuing intensive chemotherapy either shrunk tumors or stopped them from growing in 17 of 19 patients in an interim analysis from a trial at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The results are from a study evaluating this therapy in patients with BRCA1, BRCA2, or PALB2 mutations and provides encouraging early evidence that this approach might control cancer growth in patients who carry these genetic mutations. Kim Reiss Binder, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, will present the findings in a news conference today at the 2019 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Atlanta (Abstract #7643).

Artificial Intellligence Research

Funding Artificial Intelligence Research

New Tools For Detecting and Treating Pancreatic Cancer

Collective logoThe Pancreatic Cancer Collective, the strategic partnership of Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is funding two new million-dollar grants for computational approaches to identifying high-risk pancreatic cancer populations. The grant money will be used to develop new ways of identifying people who are at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer that will be based on their health records.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term that refers to machines that are programmed to mimic human reasoning. The goal of AI is to learn from failure and be able to provide the best recommendation for a specific subject. Whether it be solving equations, finding the best treatment options for cancer patients, or aiding in vehicle autonomy, AI is becoming a powerful resource across multiple industries.

“From diagnosing pancreatic cancer to determining which treatment approach may be best for each patient, we believe the field of AI holds great promise for patients and their families,” stated David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, Lustgarten’s chief scientist, director of the Cancer Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and co-scientific leader of the Collective.

The two teams will each pursue a different approach to identifying individuals in the general population who are at high risk for pancreatic cancer. One will use molecular and genetic data taken from a variety of datasets to identify new and accessible ways to identify high-risk individuals. The other focuses on identification of high-risk individuals by applying machine learning analysis to real world data comprising radiological images, electronic medical records, and information collected by physicians. Each team will receive up to $1 million over two years.


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Pancreatic Cancer Survival Odds Linked to Weight Before Age 50

Need another reason to stay slim? People who are overweight have a greater risk of dying from pancreatic cancer, especially those who are carrying extra pounds before age 50, a new study suggests.

“No matter what the age, there was some increase in pancreatic cancer deaths associated with excess weight. But the association was stronger for excess weight measured in people’s 30s and 40s,” said the study’s lead author, Eric Jacobs, senior scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“We’re not completely sure why this is. Weight gain later in life may simply have less time to cause cancer,” he said.

The Parker Institute touts early results in pancreatic cancer trial — and a new model to accelerate drug development

Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker — the founder of Napster and an early investor in Facebook — pledged $250 million in 2016 to bring together researchers from academic cancer centers across the country with the goal of accelerating the development of new treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer.

On Sunday, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy is presenting clinical trial results for the first time. And those results, which come just a year and a half after the first patient was enrolled in the study, show tumor shrinkage from the multi-drug regimen administered to patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. The new findings from the Phase 1 clinical trial were unveiled at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting underway in Atlanta.

Trial to assess high-dose, MRI-guided radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer

Researchers are launching a multi-institutional trial to test the effectiveness of precise, higher dose, MRI-guided radiation therapy to treat pancreatic cancer.

“High-definition MRI and daily treatment plan adaptation allow us to deliver ablative radiation doses safely to [patients with pancreatic cancer] for the first time,” Parag Parikh, MD, director of gastrointestinal radiation oncology and MRI-guided radiation therapy at Henry Ford Cancer Institute, said in a press release. “Through the trial, we will build upon the promising experience from other cancer institutions by further exploring MRI-guided therapy’s impact on associated toxicity, local control and patient outcomes in pancreatic cancer at multiple institutions around the world.”

The Pancreatic Cancer Collective Funds Two New Research Teams Using Artificial Intelligence To Identify High-Risk Pancreatic Cancer Populations

Computational Tools Seek to Identify Pancreatic Cancer Earlier, Provide More Opportunities for Timely, Effective Treatments

The Pancreatic Cancer Collective, the strategic partnership of Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), today announced two, million-dollar grants for computational approaches to identifying high-risk pancreatic cancer populations. The grant money will be used to develop novel tools to identify individuals who are at high risk for developing pancreatic cancer that will be based on their health records. The announcement was made at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.


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