LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK – April 8, 2013 – Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) and The Lustgarten Foundation announced today a collaboration that will extend the work of the SU2C Dream Team that is investigating ways to improve survival for patients with advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer. The Lustgarten Foundation will make a $2 million donation to SU2C, which SU2C will match, enabling this Dream Team to receive a total of $4 million over the next two years.
The unique Dream Team model of funding cancer research brings together scientists and researchers from different institutions to work collaboratively to identify and develop new approaches to combating cancer. Each Dream Team also has patient advocates to ensure that the patient’s perspective is integrated into the research on a continual basis. The Dream Team’s projects are all “translational” in nature, geared toward moving science from “bench to bedside,” where it can benefit patients, as quickly as possible.
The “Cutting off the Fuel Supply: A New Approach to the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer” Dream Team’s initial three-year SU2C grant, announced in 2009, was for $18 million to pursue translational research that would lead to improved survival for patients with advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer. A key achievement of this Dream Team in its first three years of funding was the design and implementation of a series of clinical trials testing a drug being developed by Celgene Corporation: A special form of the drug paclitaxel — paclitaxel attached to albumin (Abraxane). The impressive results of the phase III clinical trial were released in January 2013: Patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer randomized to the investigational drug in combination with the standard-of-care chemotherapy gemcitabine lived significantly longer than those randomized to gemcitabine alone.
The additional funding for the Dream Team will allow the researchers to determine how Abraxane works to destroy pancreatic cancer cells; conduct a trial of a drug that could help “starve” tumors by preventing them from acquiring the nutrients they need to survive and grow; investigate how chemical relatives of vitamin D may allow better access of therapeutics to pancreatic cancer cells; improve approaches to pancreatic tumor imaging; and investigate a three-drug combination that targets a commonly activated signaling pathway in pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is notoriously deadly. The five-year survival rate of patients with cancer of the pancreas is only about six percent, the lowest of all cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“Cancer of the pancreas is difficult to detect and hard to treat. By the time it is detected, surgery is usually not an option, so finding new therapies is crucial to improving survival,” said Kerri Kaplan, executive
director, The Lustgarten Foundation. “This is why we remain steadfast in our mission to advance pancreatic cancer research and why we are delighted to partner with Stand Up To Cancer to extend the Dream Team’s encouraging work.”
“Stand Up To Cancer is excited to continue our investment in this Dream Team, and we are delighted to collaborate with The Lustgarten Foundation to maximize the impact of the team’s truly promising work,” said Sherry Lansing, SU2C co-founder, founder of the Sherry Lansing Foundation, and chairperson of the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s (EIF) Board of Directors.
Based in several institutions, the Dream Team is headed by Craig B. Thompson, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., F.A.C.P., chief scientific officer of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare in Scottsdale, Arizona, and physician-in-chief of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix. Other principals and investigators on the Dream Team are associated with Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the University of New Mexico.
About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) – an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non- profit organization – raises funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. SU2C marshals the resources of the media and entertainment industries in the fight against this disease.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Talk Show Host, Journalist and well-known Cancer Advocate Katie Couric; Sherry Lansing, Chairperson of the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Board of Directors and Founder of the Sherry Lansing Foundation; EIF President and CEO Lisa Paulsen; EIF Senior Vice President Kathleen Lobb; Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz of the Robertson Schwartz Agency; Pamela Oas Williams, President of Laura Ziskin Productions and Executive Producer of Stand Up To Cancer’s In-house Production Team, and Nonprofit Executive Ellen Ziffren. All current members of the CFA were co-producers of the 2012 televised special. The late co-founder Laura Ziskin executive produced both the Sept. 5, 2008, and Sept. 10, 2010, broadcasts. SU2C was formally launched on May 27, 2008. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., R.N., has served as SU2C’s president and CEO since 2011.
SU2C’s “Dream Team” approach to funding translational cancer research enables scientists from different disciplines at research centers across the country and internationally to collaborate on projects geared toward getting new, less toxic treatments to patients as quickly as possible. Monies also support innovative cancer research projects that are often deemed “too risky” by conventional funding sources. One hundred and one institutions are currently involved. As SU2C’s scientific collaborator, the American Association for Cancer Research, led by a prestigious SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee, provides scientific oversight, expert review of the research projects and grants administration. For more information, visit standup2cancer.org.
About The Lustgarten Foundation
The Lustgarten Foundation is America’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research. Based in Bethpage, New York, the Foundation supports research to find a cure for pancreatic cancer, facilitates dialogue within the medical and scientific community, and educates the public about the disease through awareness campaigns and fundraising events. The Foundation has provided millions of research dollars and assembled the best scientific minds with the hope that one day, a cure can be found. Cablevision Systems Corporation, a leading media and telecommunications company, underwrites all of The Lustgarten Foundation’s administrative costs, so that 100 percent of every dollar donated to the Foundation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research. Learn more at www.curePC.org.