Funded in Collaboration With
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)
Pancreatic cancer is a lethal disease. 95% of patients die within 5 years of diagnosis, despite our best current treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. By 2020, pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Novel strategies to combat this deadly disease are urgently needed.
T-cells are highly specialized cells of the immune system designed to protect the human body from infections and cancer. In the past decade, we have discovered that T-cells recognize proteins that only cancers make, identifying cancers as foreign, triggering T-cells to kill cancers. Cancers however are equipped with strategies to escape T-cells. Our group has recently identified a drug paricalcitol that eliminates barriers that tumors have developed to block T-cell attack. Our preliminary findings demonstrate that this drug increases T-cell numbers within tumors by greater than 10 fold. These results are promising as it allows us to further boost T-cells with other drugs, and increase the ability of T-cells to kill tumors.
Our proposed research will delve deep into understanding the specific proteins on tumors that T-cell recognize, the specifics of how tumors create barriers to block T-cells, and combining paricalcitol with other drugs that boost T-cells in a clinical trial. Our proposals allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the biology of T-cells in pancreatic tumors so that we may develop better treatments to improve outcomes in patients.