Current Research & Publications

Co-directors (pictured left to right) and Sanjay Reddy, MD, FACS, Igor Atsaturov, MD, PhD, and  Edna Cukierman, PhD.
Co-directors (pictured left to right) and Sanjay Reddy, MD, FACS, Igor Atsaturov, MD, PhD, and Edna Cukierman, PhD.

The Greenberg Pancreatic Cancer Institute is comprised of research and clinical faculty members across multiple disciplines, including basic and population sciences, as well as medical, radiation, and surgical oncology. We have 15 funded grants in pancreatic cancer, and 12 ongoing clinical/IRB protocols, with four additional studies awaiting approval or activation.

Our studies are truly translational, bringing together investigators from multiple disciplines. These include two studies focused on novel radiation oncology treatment modalities with the goal of improving surgical resection. The first is a translational study jointly funding the treatment of patients with pulsed low dose rate radiation on a clinical trial and the laboratory work to help understand its effects. The second is a study of a new low dose rate brachytherapy device implanted at the time of surgical resection for which our colleague Joshua Meyer, MD, is the National Principal Investigator.

Currently we are activating our NCI-funded window study aiming to test a stroma modifying treatment regimen in the neoadjuvant setting with real-time biologic and translational end points. We have submitted a pancreatic duct fluid study, looking to determine whether specific markers can be identified in pancreatic duct fluid at the time of endoscopy, and then at the time of surgery. Fox Chase emphasizes neoadjuvant therapy, and we aim to see if this may alter the markers before and after therapy. Finally, we have created a multilevel pancreatic cancer database that includes data collection of over 200 variables from electronic medical records on close to 900 patients diagnosed and treated at Fox Chase from 2010-2019. This patient-level data has been linked to existing neighborhood variables to allow for studies of pancreatic cancer health disparities; and we are in the process of linking these patients to existing biospecimens and previously measured molecular markers from basic science studies, which will allow for studies investigating the role of geography, behavior, and biology on pancreatic cancer treatment and survival outcomes.

Addressing the urgent need for better understanding of the mechanism of weight loss and the impact of nutrients on pancreatic cancer, our team has recently expanded the clinical and translational research in nutrition and quality of life in pancreatic cancer. On the basic science side, the Astsaturov and Cukierman laboratories are following their two 2020 and 2021 high-impact publications (Cancer Cell, Cancer Discovery) and investigating how pancreatic tumors continue to inhibit the immune system and get essential nutrients in the absence of blood supply.Carolyn Fang, Ph.D. (link) and Shannon Lynch, Ph.D. (link) are investigating the caregiver burden (study IRB 13-801) and the role of socio-demographic factors in pancreatic cancer risk and outcomes. Rishi Jain, M.D. (link) is building up our Nutrition research program and is conducting a phase1/2 clinical trial of anti-cachexia antibody against tumor-secreted protein GDF15 in combination with chemotherapy in newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients (IRB 19-1054).

Noteworthy Publications:

Netrin G1 Promotes Pancreatic Tumorigenesis Through Cancer Associated Fibroblast Driven Nutritional Support and Immunosuppression

Cholesterol Pathway Inhibition Induces TGF-β Signaling to Promote Basal Differentiation in Pancreatic Cancer