Welcome to the Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center!
The Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center (PCRC) is committed to delivering high-quality care for patients with pancreatic cancer. We take a multidisciplinary approach — integrating Medical Oncology, Surgery, Gastroenterology, Radiation Oncology, and Pathology — to deliver comprehensive and personalized options to our patients.
The American Cancer Society has reported that in 2018 pancreatic cancer became the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., surpassing breast cancer (see Cancer Statistics). One encouraging piece of this report is that the five-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer has moved to 9 percent (from 5 percent several years ago). At the Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center (PCRC), we understand the urgent need to develop better treatments and cures for patients.
Beatty lab probes the molecular basis of liver metastasis
Pancreatic cancers frequently metastasize to the liver, and a new study from the Beatty laboratory shows that hepatocytes – the major cell type in the liver – plays a role in the process. Using a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, first author Jae Lee found that in animals with pancreatic tumors, hepatocytes had increased levels of the STAT3 molecule, which in turn caused them produce another protein, SAA, leading to enhanced metastasis. The study suggests that it may be possible to block this chain of events, reducing the overall burden of metastasis in the disease. Read more about it here.
Philadelphia Inquirer Feature
PCRC Researchers Drs. Kim Reiss-Binder and Mark O'Hara are featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer for leading studies that show exciting potential in combating Pancreatic Cancer. Read the article here.
Promising Clinical Data presented at AACR Meeting
PCRC Researcher Mark O’Hara, M.D. presented exciting Phase 1 data regarding treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer with combination immunotherapy (Gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel, CD40 agonist, PD-1 antagonist). Watch the webcast here.
Wellen laboratory identifies new links between metabolic pathways and tumor growth
The Kras oncogene, which is mutated in the vast majority of pancreatic tumors, promotes cancer cell growth by activating a variety of signaling pathways. In this paper from Carrer and colleagues in Katy Wellen’s laboratory in the Abramson Cancer Center, the authors identify an increase in the abundance of an essential metabolite – acetyl-CoA – as a mechanism by which Kras promotes tumor formation. These studies provide a rationale for targeting the enzymes that supply tumor cells with abundant acetyl-CoA as a future approach to treating pancreatic cancer patients. Read more about it here.
November Marks Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
As researchers and clinicians in the Penn PCRC, we honor survivors, patients, and caregivers and strive to offer Hope at All Stages.
PCRC Researchers have been featured in two articles in Let's Win! Pancreatic Cancer. Most recently, PCRC Oncologist Dr. Kim Reiss-Binder for her work on PARP inhibitors, and PCRC Director Dr. Ben Z. Stanger for his work on "hot" and "cold" tumors.
Shown below are four journal covers created by our researchers featuring recent work.
The laboratories of Erica Carpenter and David Issadore have been developing new ways of extracting molecular information about pancreatic tumors from the blood:
- Ko J, Bhagwat N, Black T, Yee SS, Na YJ, Fisher SA, Kim J, Carpenter EL, Stanger BZ, Issadore D. miRNA profiling of magnetic nanopore-isolated extracellular vesicles for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Cancer Res. 2018 Jul 1;78(13):3688-3697.
- Bhagwat N, Dulmage K, Pletcher CH Jr., Wang L, DeMuth W, Sen M, Balli D, Yee SS, Sa S, Tong F, Yu L, Moore JS, Stanger BZ, Dixon EP, Carpenter EL. An integrated flow cytometry-based platform for isolation and molecular characterization of circulating tumor single cells and clusters. Sci Rep. 2018 Mar; 8(1):5035.
Work from the laboratories of Anil Rustgi and Ben Stanger shows how tumor plasticity (the ability of tumor cells to adopt new features) influences metastasis in pancreatic cancer:
- Reichert M, Bakir B, Moreira L, Pitarresi JR, Feldmann K, Simon L, Suzuki K, Maddipati R, Rhim AD, Schlitter AM, Kriegsmann M, Weichert W, Wirth M, Schuck K, Schneider G, Saur D, Reynolds AB, Klein-Szanto AJ, Pehlivanoglu B, Memis B, Adsay NV, Rustgi AK. Regulation of Epithelial Plasticity Determines Metastatic Organotropism in Pancreatic Cancer. Dev Cell 2018 Jun 18;45(6):696-711.
- Aiello NM, Maddipati R, Norgard RJ, Balli D, Li J, Yuan S, Yamazoe T, Black T, Sahmoud A, Furth EE, Bar-Sagi D, Stanger BZ. EMT Subtype Influences Epithelial Plasticity and Mode of Cell Migration. Dev Cell 2018 Jun 18;45(6):681-695.
- (Highlighted in Developmental Cell): Lo HC, Zhang XH. EMT in Metastasis: Finding the Right Balance. Dev Cell 2018 Jun 18;45(6):663-665.
Work from the laboratories of Robert Vonderheide and Ben Stanger probes the molecular wiring of tumors that renders them sensitive or resistant to immune therapies (Penn Press Release):
- Li J, Byrne KT, Yan F, Yamazoe T, Chen Z, Baslan T, Richman LP, Lin JH, Sun YH, Rech AJ, Balli D, Hay CA, Sela Y, Merrell AJ, Liudahl SM, Gordon N, Norgard RJ, Yuan S, Yu S, Chao T, Ye S, Eisinger-Mathason TSK, Faryabi RB, Tobias JW, Lowe SW, Coussens LM, Wherry EJ, Vonderheide RH, Stanger BZ. Tumor Cell-Intrinsic Factors Underlie Heterogeneity of Immune Cell Infiltration and Response to Immunotherapy. Immunity 2018 Jul 17;49(1):178-193.
For more of our published research, see the Publications page: https://www.med.upenn.edu/pcrc/publications.html.
Information for clinical trials
We believe in the power of clinical trials in caring for patients and conquering this disease.
For more information, click here.
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