Adoptive Transfer - Stand Up to Cancer
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Research Teams

Research  >  Research Portfolio  >  Dream Teams  >  Adoptive Transfer

Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team:
Adoptive Transfer of TGF-β Resistant TIL to Defeat Immunosuppressive PDAC New Therapies Challenge

Grant Term: November 2018–December 2019

Pancreatic cancer cells have a high level of a protein, called TGF-β, that can repress the activity of the immune system in fighting cancers. This research team can isolate tumor-specific killer T cells (called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, or TILs) from pancreatic cancer tissue and transfer them back to the patient for maximal impact against the tumor cells. The team is engineering TIL to make the cells resistant to the suppressive effect of TGF-β, potentially enabling the TIL to attack the cancer tissue within the pancreas. 

ABOUT THIS TEAM’S RESEARCH

Reactivation of the immune system’s anticancer function has dramatically improved outcomes for several solid tumor types but has not yet shown similar efficacy for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer tissue has a high level of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). TGF-β effectively counteracts the immune system.

Team researchers have developed methods to isolate the few tumor-specific killer T cells (called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, or TILs) from pancreatic cancer tissue and greatly expand their numbers in the laboratory. They can then transfer these TIL cells back to the patient for maximal impact against the tumor cells. They have used this approach very successfully in metastatic melanoma and shown that 42% of treatment-resistant patients derived benefit from the therapy.

The Team is now developing TIL therapy for pancreatic cancer patients, using engineered TILs that are made resistant to the suppressive effect of TGF-β. In the 14-month period of this grant, they are focusing on demonstrating feasibility and potential efficacy of this approach in the laboratory.

This team is part of the Pancreatic Cancer Collective, an initiative of the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and Stand Up To Cancer.

MEET THE TEAM

The top scientists and researchers on the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Adoptive Transfer of TGF-β Resistant TIL to Defeat Immunosuppressive PDAC New Therapies Challenge come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Adoptive Transfer of TGF-β Resistant TIL to Defeat Immunosuppressive PDAC New Therapies Challenge.

“We believe that providing pancreatic cancer tumor–infiltrating lymphocytes with ‘protective armor’ will directly enhance their function and antitumor capabilities and will be key to attaining successful eradication of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).”

Patrick Hwu, MD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

TEAM PROGRESS UPDATES

Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click below to see summaries of the research results so far for the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Adoptive Transfer of TGF-β Resistant TIL to Defeat Immunosuppressive PDAC New Therapies Challenge.

TEAM PROGRESS UPDATES

PUBLICATIONS

This team started its work in November 2018; links to publications will be posted when they are available.

CLINICAL TRIALS REFERRALS

Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available, in fact the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials don’t get completed because not enough people participate.

At StandUpToCancer.org/ClinicalTrials, you’ll find information and answers to common questions about clinical trials. Learn more and talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be the best choice for you.

You can also connect with EmergingMed, a free and confidential clinical trial matching service that provides access to a vast database to help you identify the clinical trials that might be right for you or your loved one.

LEARN MORE