The Pancreatic Cancer Collective awards $7 million in first-round “New Therapies Challenge” Grants
The Pancreatic Cancer Collective, the strategic partnership of the Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), has awarded a total of $7 million in first-round “New Therapies Challenge” grants to seven teams of top cancer researchers to explore new pancreatic cancer treatments, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Scientific Partner of SU2C, announced today. Each team will receive up to $1 million in initial funding, with $4 million per team for clinical studies awaiting the most successful projects in the second round.
These teams are the first projects funded under the Pancreatic Cancer Collective launched this spring to accelerate pancreatic cancer research and improve patient outcomes for pancreatic cancer, which is one of the deadliest cancers, with a five-year survival rate of only 8 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“New and effective treatments are urgently needed for cancer of the pancreas,” said Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, the Nobel laureate who is chair of SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and scientific co-leader of the Collective. “The two-step process created by the Pancreatic Cancer Collective is an innovative and flexible approach that will speed up the research process, help us have a real impact on pancreatic cancer, and bring new hope to patients and their families.”
The seven teams given funding in this first round of the Collective’s New Therapies Challenge will conduct their research for the next 14 months, reporting their results to the Collective and the Joint Scientific Advisory Committee (JSAC) which selected these teams. The second round of funding of $4 million per team will support clinical studies of the most promising teams from the first round.
“Pancreatic cancer research is moving faster than ever before,” said Kerri Kaplan, Lustgarten’s president and chief executive officer. “Now is the time for innovation and acceleration towards improved treatment for the patients who so desperately need and deserve better options.”
“We are in a very exciting place right now for pancreatic cancer research,” said David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, Lustgarten’s Chief Scientist and director of the cancer center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, co-scientific leader of the Collective. “We’re bringing together insights from immunology, targeted therapy, genomics, modeling, and other fields, and we’re going to find out what should go forward to clinical studies. We are very optimistic that we can make some real progress.”
“We launched this joint Collective to create a network of grants and researchers to accelerate the translation of research findings into treatments, through innovative and flexible models,” said Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, president and CEO of Stand Up To Cancer. “We believe this New Therapies Challenge will help spur breakthroughs, and the potential for additional funding will spur even more breakthroughs.”
The Pancreatic Cancer Collective’s New Therapies Challenge Research Teams are:
Adoptive Transfer of TGF-β Resistant TIL to Defeat Immunosuppressive PDAC: Team leader: Patrick Hwu, MD, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; co-leaders: Chantale Bernatchez, PhD, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Cliona M. Rooney, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine. The team will create tumor-specific killer T cells (tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, or TILs) that are resistant to transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) (a protein that can counteract the immune system), and use the TILs to attack pancreatic cancer.
Combined Targeting of MEK1/MEK2 and Autophagy for Pancreatic Cancer: Team leader: Martin McMahon, PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah; co-leader: Eric Collisson, MD, University of California San Francisco. The team will test combined blockade of intracellular signaling via the RAS pathway, and autophagic recycling of the cells’ interior contents.
Exploiting DNA Repair Gene Mutations in Pancreatic Cancer: Team leader: Alan D. D’Andrea, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; co-leader: James M. Cleary, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The team’s goal is to evaluate DNA repair inhibitors in pancreatic cancer. It will seek to improve PARP inhibitor monotherapy by developing strategies that will combine different targeted therapies and have activity in patients with PARP inhibitor resistance.
Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS: Team leader: Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania; co-leaders: Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, and Beatriz M. Carreno, PhD, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The team’s goal is to develop a cellular therapy that exploits novel cell engineering that can be used to manufacture highly selective, anti-cancer T cells on a per-patient basis.
Molecularly Targeted Radionuclide Therapy via the Integrin AlphaVBeta6: Team leader: Julie L. Sutcliffe, PhD, University of California Davis; co-leader, Richard L. Bold, MD, University of California Davis. The team will develop a peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) to attack a protein called integrin αvβ6 that is significantly upregulated in pancreatic cancer.
Targeting SHP2 in Pancreatic Cancer: Team leader: René Bernards, DPhil, Netherlands Cancer Institute; co-leaders, Emile E. Voest, MD, PhD, Netherlands Cancer Institute, and Hana Algül, MD, MPH, Technical University of Munich. The team will test a combination of drugs to more effectively kill pancreatic tumors that have a mutation in the KRAS gene.
Targeting Stem Cell Signals in Pancreatic Cancer: Team leader: Tannishtha Reya, PhD, University of California San Diego School of Medicine; co-leaders: Andrew M. Lowy, MD, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and Margaret A. Tempero, MD, University of California San Francisco. The team will test whether certain drugs can reduce growth of pancreatic cancer by inhibiting a hormone receptor that is believed to be a key regulator of pancreatic cancer stem cells.
The Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer have collaborated closely since 2012, jointly funding more than 209 investigators from 31 leading research centers in the United States and the United Kingdom. These efforts include four Dream Teams and five Research Teams, including two Convergence Teams bringing together computational experts with clinical oncologists. Cancer Interception, research supporting the earliest diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, even before the cancer may have fully formed, is the focus of one of the Dream Teams and one of the Research Teams. All told, these collaborative teams have planned, started, or completed 25 clinical trials. The Pancreatic Cancer Collective is building on this momentum to push the boundaries of what can be accomplished even further.
ABOUT THE PANCREATIC CANCER COLLECTIVE
The Pancreatic Cancer Collective is an initiative of the Lustgarten Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer to improve pancreatic cancer patient outcomes. Together, these leading cancer research organizations will attract new collaborators; improve diagnosis of pancreatic cancer using big data; find new treatments for pancreatic cancer; and support the next generation of pancreatic cancer investigators. Engaging thought leaders, researchers, institutions, and companies, the Collective will innovate and accelerate research on the edge of science. For more information, visit www.PancreaticCancerCollective.org
ABOUT THE LUSTGARTEN FOUNDATION
The Lustgarten Foundation is America’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research. Based in Woodbury, N.Y., 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. Since its inception, the Lustgarten Foundation has directed $165 million to research and assembled the best scientific minds with the hope that one day, a cure can be found. Thanks to separate funding to support administrative expenses, 100% of your donation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research. For more information, visit Lustgarten.org.
ABOUT STAND UP TO CANCER
STAND UP TO CANCER (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C was established in 2008 by media and entertainment leaders who utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, to increase awareness about cancer prevention, and to highlight progress being made in the fight against the disease. As of April 2018, more than 1,500 scientists representing more than 180 institutions are involved in SU2C-funded research projects.
Under the direction of our Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, staff at SU2C and our Scientific Partner, the American Association for Cancer Research, SU2C operates rigorous competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and ensure collaboration across research programs.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, and Ellen Ziffren. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, serves as SU2C’s president and CEO.
Stand Up To Cancer and SU2C are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Entertainment Industry Foundation in the United States and several other countries throughout the world. SU2C is a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information on Stand Up To Cancer, visit StandUpToCancer.org.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR CANCER RESEARCH
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 40,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 120 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 22,500 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit AACR.org.