Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) currently is the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States, and it is expected to become the second most common cause within the next few years. Unlike virtually all other major cancers, pancreatic cancer both is increasing in incidence and has shown essentially no improvement in five-year survival over the past two decades. The exceptional lethality of pancreatic cancer is due to several factors, including an intrinsically aggressive biology, lack of effective means of early detection, and poor responsiveness to systemic chemotherapy. Clearly, novel approaches to this disease are needed.
The SU2C–NSF–Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Research Team is building on previous findings to further explore potential approaches to pancreatic cancer that engage the body’s immune system. A new clinical trial is assessing whether controlled treatment with vitamin D can help immune cells penetrate the pancreatic tumor, increasing the effectiveness of immunotherapy. Additionally, extensive analysis of existing specimens will assess patients’ immune responses to their tumors.
The group, comprising physicians, cancer immunobiologists, computational biologists, and biophysicists, strives to better understand the unique immunological microenvironment of pancreatic cancer, develop the technologies needed to take advantage of cancer cell vulnerabilities, and form a multi-institution clinical consortium to more readily implement new strategies that could change the course of this deadly disease.
This team is part of the Pancreatic Cancer Collective portfolio of research.