Rolfe Foundation Fellowship: For the past two years, the Rolfe Foundation Fellowship has supported the research of two trainees (Drs. Namm and Skowron), working under the supervision of Mitchell Posner, M.D. and Ralph Weichselbaum, M.D. This next fellow, Elizabeth Poli, M.D., will build upon Dr. Skowron’s research to reveal the relationship between the immune system and pancreatic cancer in advancing early detection. Timeline is July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.
Irving Waxman, MD for Detection of Portal Vein Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) in Pancreatic Cancer: This is a grant that will continue the research of Drs. Waxman and Catenacci to identify and assess pancreatic cancer in its early stages by collecting samples of Circulating Tumor Cells from the portal vein. Tumors from the pancreas shed cancerous cells into the blood that get trapped in the portal vein before they reach the liver. These cells in the portal venous system could help physicians make more informed clinical decisions in early diagnosis and personalized treatment. Our grant will allow more study to confirm the hypothesis with larger numbers of patients in a clinical trial.
Establishment of Organoid bank for Pancreatic Cancer Precursor Lesions: Pancreatic cancer arises through non-invasive precursor lesions leading to cancerous tumors. Identifying these precursor lesions before they become invasive cancer is the key to early detection, treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer. In spite of this the majority of research has focused on pancreatic cancer rather than these critical precursor lesions. One reason for this gap is a lack of model systems in which to study early pancreatic lesions. Pancreatic duct organoids are three-dimensional culture systems that can be used to probe the genetics and biology of pancreatic cancer. This grant will establish an organoid tissue bank of precursor and normal duct organoid lines from 50 patients.
Circulating Exosomes as biomarker for Pancreatic Cancer: This grant is for the research of Michael Goggins, M.D. Exosomes are small extracellular vesicles shed from normal and cancerous cells. Exosomes can be detected in the circulation as diagnostic biomarkers. Critical to their potential as diagnostic markers of pancreatic cancer is determining if pancreatic cancer cells are the primary source of these markers. Dr. Goggins proposes to isolate circulating exosomes to purify potential pancreatic-derived vesicles from other, more abundant extracellular vesicle populations, to confirm pancreatic cancer as the source of these exosomes for superior diagnostic potential.
Dr. Diane Simeone is head of the University of Michigan’s pancreatic cancer center. She has had impressive success in isolating Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) and studying them in a 3-dimentional environment – which no one else has been able to do.
Isolating CTSs in high risk families for pancreatic cancer is early detection. This fits well with the Foundation’s new research strategy of “Know Your Risk” for familial pancreatic cancer.
This grant is in support of Dr. Gloria Petersen’s early detection research, “Early Detection for Families of Pancreatic Cancer Patients with Gene Mutations.”
Dr. Petersen’s project will advance research to generate needed data that will establish recommendations for early detection in family members of pancreatic cancer patients. This project will likely impact pancreatic cancer risk assessment and early detection strategies.