Since its opening in September 2017, the Institute has been committed to achieving breakthroughs in both early detection and treatment options for pancreatic cancer under the leadership of co-directors Igor Astsaturov, MD, PhD, Edna Cukierman, PhD, and Sanjay S. Reddy, MD, FACS.
Fox Chase is a renowned leader in pancreatic cancer detection and treatment and is the only cancer center in the Philadelphia region to be designated as a both a Clinical and Academic Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer by the National Pancreas Foundation. We know that collaboration between our researchers and physicians is integral to the success of our efforts, and our dedication to this at the Institute will lead to even more clinical trial options for patients.
At the Institute, a multidisciplinary team of researchers and physicians will work together to develop innovative ideas to disrupt pancreatic cancer metabolism/the connective tissue stroma reaction (desmoplasia) that promotes immunosuppression. They also work towards nominating new targets for drug development. In addition to a world-class basic science program, the Institute boasts an active translational research program (research that can be taken to the clinic) and an active clinical research team that has focused on the concept of neoadjuvant therapy (presurgical therapy) for those with pancreatic cancer.
This program is spearheading innovative clinical trials to develop new therapies for patients with pancreatic cancer. At Fox Chase, we draw upon the nationally recognized expertise of our multidisciplinary medical teams, as well as our experts in basic and translational research, to improve existing and develop new pancreatic cancer treatments.
Specifically, the clinical team is leading efforts to understand how pancreatic tumors continue to get essential nutrients once they lose their blood supply. Pancreatic cancer is able to cut off the patient’s anti-tumor immune system and still be able to grow. We want to understand this puzzle so we can, turn the immune system back on and stop the specialized growth.
Our pancreatic clinical pancreatic cancer program is led by a team of nationally renowned medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists, who work together to provide a full spectrum of care for pancreatic cancer—from detection through survivorship.
Our expert surgical team led by Sanjay S. Reddy, MD, FACS is developing innovative surgical procedures (such as utilizing minimally invasive and robotic techniques) and investigating the role of neoadjuvant therapies in patients with localized pancreatic cancers. The concept of neoadjuvant (presurgical) therapy in those with this disease is not novel to the institution. We have been developing these techniques for over a decade, and this has been an area of academic and clinical pursuit for our surgical team. The collaborative efforts between the surgeon and scientist are at the core of what the foundation is built upon. Innovative clinical trial design, and incorporating expertise from various disciplines, ultimately leads to successful resection of pancreatic tumors and optimal outcomes.
As a member of the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Dr. Efrat Dotan is part of a group of medical oncologists who are regional and national leaders in their field. As part of the multidisciplinary cancer treatment team, the medical oncologists specialize in managing and treating patients throughout the course of the disease. These oncologists conduct important clinical research and help to set treatment guidelines by serving on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines board.
The Institute was established in 2017 with the goal of rewriting the future of pancreatic cancer research and accelerating the development of new cures and treatment options.
Under the direction of research leader Edna Cukierman, PhD, the Institute’s vision is to establish a world class research and clinical program to investigate the fundamental challenges of pancreatic cancer biology, which could lead to the discovery of breakthrough therapies.
Several laboratories already funded by National Cancer Institute research grants are working together to develop ideas for additional collaboration. The team is addressing pancreatic cancer metabolism and reciprocal signaling between cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts that alter the active stromal (desmoplastic) immunosuppressive milieu. The goal is to harness the body’s natural immune protection machinery and identify new targets for future drug development.
In this way, the team plans to continue our history of success and propel Fox Chase to the forefront of pancreatic cancer research nationwide. Our goal is to make a significant and meaningful difference for pancreatic cancer patients and their loved ones.