Go Blue


Pancreatic cancer is perhaps the most devastating and lethal form of cancer. At the time of diagnosis, most pancreatic cancers are aggressive and highly invasive. Only 1 in 5 patients with unresectable disease is alive a year following diagnosis. The goal of this proposal is to introduce a new approach to the therapy of pancreatic cancer that increases the one-year survival of patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer from 20% to 80% within 3 years

Most invasive pancreatic cancers have developed mutations that direct the cancer cell to acquire more nutrients than normal cells. Cancer cells use these extra nutrients to maintain their survival, produce energy, and divide. In addition, highly aggressive pancreatic tumors can also coopt surrounding normal cells into helping the cancer cells acquire the resources necessary to both grow and metastasize. Unlike other cancer types, most pancreatic cancers do not appear to fuel their growth and survival through glucose. Instead, pancreatic cancers are often addicted to the use of the amino acid glutamine to produce the energy they need to grow. Cancers that use glutamine as their energy source are frequently resistant to standard chemotherapy. In addition, the excess metabolism of glutamine by a cancer cell can induce immune cells and the connective tissue that surrounds the tumor to produce growth factors that support the tumor’s ability to survive and invade surrounding normal tissue.

This Dream Team has been assembled to introduce the use of metabolic and genetic profiling of a cancer in order to individualize a patient’s therapy. This proposal seeks to introduce new therapies designed to interrupt the ability of pancreatic cancer cells to use glutamine, glucose, and/or stromal cell survival factors to maintain their viability. Such therapies are predicted to choke off the fuel supply of nutrient-addicted pancreatic cancer cells. By combining functional metabolic profiling with novel drug therapy, this proposal seeks to introduce and rapidly evaluate clinical approaches to pancreatic cancer care that are specifically tailored for each patient. If successful, we believe this approach of combining targeted metabolic therapy, based on pretreatment tumor genotyping and phenotyping, with existing chemotherapy has the potential to have broad application to the treatment of other cancer types.

Among the tumors where this approach could be adopted to improve treatment outcomes are: glioblastoma multiforme, colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

For more information, visit clinicaltrials.gov