1. Title: U01CA282272 “Biomarker Validation in Pancreatic Cystic Neoplasms”

Funder: NIH Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium Research Units

PIs: Diane Simeone, Aristotelis Tsirigos

Participating PRECEDE sites: NYU, Pittsburgh, UCSD, Mayo AZ

Funded final budget: $4.2 million over 5 years

Project summary:

Pancreatic cystic neoplasms (PCN) represent a common incidental finding with a prevalence of up to 24% in adults, and some PCN carry significant risk for malignancy. Current guidelines for surveillance and surgical intervention rely on symptoms and imaging features, and lead to surgical overtreatment. Development of effective early detection biomarkers in blood or cyst fluid could more accurately differentiate high risk PCN from low risk lesions, and lead to early detection of lesions with high-grade dysplasia or early stage malignancy for surgical intervention. In this proposal, we will incorporate prospective-specimen-collection, retrospective-blinded-evaluation (PRoBE) standards to rigorously test the performance of three blood-based biomarkers and one cyst fluid marker with samples collected from three cohorts: 1) stage I/II PDAC and controls; 2) Patients with PCN who undergo surgical resection; 3) Patients with PCN ≥ 2.5 cm or main pancreatic duct ≥ 5 mm under surveillance with serial imaging and sample collection. We will test performance of the biomarkers individually, and as part of multi-variable models.

    1. Title: Casper-PANC Study (Canadian Strategy for Personalized Management of Pancreatic Cancer)

Funder: Canadian Cancer Society (CCS)

PI: Steven Gallinger

Funded final budget: $7.5M, 2021-2026

Project Summary:

In Canada, almost 7,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year, but on average, only 10% of them will be alive 5 years after their diagnosis. The inability to meaningfully improve survival has been attributed to late-stage diagnosis and rapid spread of pancreatic cancer, combined with resistance to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. But detecting this cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat, could change outcomes.  

With support from the Canadian Cancer Society, this multidisciplinary research team, including clinicians, scientists and family/patient partners, is working to increase survival for pancreatic cancer by taking a multi-pronged approach and building on previous successes to drive progress. The team plans to establish a liquid-biopsy (using blood) screening program for high-risk individuals to detect pre-cancerous lesions and early-stage disease. They will sequence the genomes of patient samples to better understand the trajectory of the disease and to identify personalized treatments, including immunotherapy, where applicable. The team is also generating cell models (organoids) that mimic patient tumors. These are being used to screen drug libraries to match patients with specific treatments based on the response detected in the organoid. Patients may also be matched to on-going clinical trials based on the results of genomic sequencing. 

As leaders in pancreatic cancer research in Canada, the team is poised to leverage past successes and existing infrastructure to unravel the complexities of pancreatic cancer, beginning in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The overall aim of the project is to accelerate the translation of pre-clinical findings to the next generation of patient-centered clinical trials, increasing survival for people with pancreatic cancer.