Grants - Massachusetts - Designated Grants - 2015

David Ting, M.D. & Mihir Rajurkar, Ph.D.

Funded in Collaboration With Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a frequent cause of cancer death in the United States; it currently is the fourth most common cause of cancer death and is expected to become the second most common cause of cancer death within the next five years.  Unlike virtually all other major cancers, pancreas cancer is both increasing in incidence and has shown essentially no improvement in five year survival over the past two decades.   The exceptional lethality of pancreas cancer is multifactorial, resulting from an intrinsically aggressive biology, lack of effective means of early detection, and poor responsiveness to systemic chemotherapy. Clearly novel approaches to this disease are needed.

Although there have been anecdotal reports of responses to immune-based therapies in pancreas cancer, activation of cellular immunity using checkpoint inhibitors, vaccine strategies and transfer of genetically modified T cells has not been shown to be generally effective.  We have assembled a team of physicians, cancer immunobiologists, computational biophysicists, and engineers to better understand the unique immunological microenvironment of pancreatic cancer, develop the technologies needed to take advantage of therapeutic vulnerabilities, and to form a multi-institutional clinical consortium to readily implement these strategies to help change the course of this deadly disease.