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$18 million awarded to TGen and University of Pennsylvania for pancreatic cancer research
Date:5/27/2009

r biology at the university's School of Medicine. His research focuses on how alterations in the control of cell metabolism contribute to cancer cell development and survival. He has contributed to the development of new treatments for autoimmune diseases and leukemia.

About pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Over 90 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Recent advancements have had little impact, and a new approach is desperately needed.

Using modern tumor imaging, it is possible to monitor a tumor's glucose utilization and such tests are now routinely used in clinical practice. In most cases, the more glucose a tumor is using, the more advanced the tumor and the greater likelihood of spread. Similarly, if a tumor is using less glucose as a response to chemotherapy, then it is a good indication that the tumor is responding to treatment.

Pancreatic cancer presents a unique challenge because it is addicted to another molecule, glutamine, rather than glucose. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps build muscle mass and is used by some cells for energy. When cancer feeds or metabolizes excess amounts of gluatamine, it can lead to extreme weight loss by robbing other cells of this important nutrient, a condition from which many pancreatic cancer patients suffer. In addition, the waste that is a by-product of this process generates an intense reaction from surrounding normal cells, which then secrete growth factors that help tumor cells grow. Cancers that use excess glutamine are often resistant to standard forms of chemotherapy, another characteristic of pancreatic cancer.

About the Dream Teams

The five Dream Teams culled from 237 submissions are comprised of seven leaders, four co-leaders and 27 principal researchers from more than 20 leading institutions, w
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Contact: Steve Yozwiak, TGen Senior Science Writer
syozwiak@tgen.org
602-343-8704
The Translational Genomics Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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