PHILADELPHIA (August 28, 2019)–Jaye Gardiner, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Edna Cukierman laboratory at Fox Chase Cancer Center, recently received a $163,500 grant from the American Cancer Society to support her research into the role of the tumor stroma, or the tumor microenvironment, in pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer typically has poor clinical outcomes due to a lack of effective treatments and the fact that it’s often detected late, causing few symptoms in its early stages. Gardiner’s research will explore the role of the stroma in both driving and suppressing tumor growth, with an eye toward developing new treatments.
The stroma can either encourage or restrict tumor growth in pancreatic cancer, Gardiner said. “If we are able to only harness the natural tumor-restricting properties of pancreatic cancer’s stroma, the outcome of this disease may drastically improve.” To better understand the dual nature of the stroma, Gardiner will be researching the major cell type found in the pancreatic stroma, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs).
More specifically, through this three-year grant, Gardiner will explore how CAFs communicate with one another and how this communication is altered in tumor-promoting versus tumor-restricting conditions.
Any differences found will begin to give insight into what is necessary to make a habitable environment for cancer growth. By determining what factors promote a tumor-supportive environment and understanding the finer details of this process, Gardiner hopes to use this information to discover future druggable targets.
Last year, Gardiner won the Science Communication Prize from the Mindlin Foundation and was a semifinalist for the HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellows Award.