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US, Canadian Researchers Partner to ID Biomarkers Predictive of Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

NEW YORK – Research advocacy organization Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) on Tuesday announced the launch of a new research initiative to identify predictive molecular markers and improve understanding of why certain pancreatic cancer treatments work in some patients but not in others.

The project will be conducted by a group of researchers, dubbed the Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Dream Team, and funded by Lustgarten Foundation, SU2C, SU2C Canada, and Pancreatic Cancer Canada.

The researchers will conduct a Phase II clinical trial, called Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Signature Stratification for Treatment (PASS-01), which will randomize 150 untreated, metastatic pancreatic cancer patients to receive one of two commonly used chemotherapy regimens: modified FOLFIRINOX, which comprises four chemotherapy drugs, and the combination of gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. Through molecular profiling and other analyses of patients' samples and data, the researchers are hoping to identify biomarkers that enable identification of best responders to these treatments.

The study will take place at the University Health Network Toronto and Johns Hopkins University, among other sites in the US and Canada. The investigators will be led by Jennifer Knox, chair of pancreatic cancer research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, and Elizabeth Jaffee, deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at JHU.

Their research will build on findings from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Additionally, the team will work with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York to create patient-derived organoids from the tumor samples collected in PASS-01 and use them to screen drugs that can further personalize pancreatic cancer treatment.  

Additionally, the researchers said they will prioritize recruitment of diverse patients, recognizing that the incidence of pancreatic cancer in the US is 19 percent higher in Black men and 36 percent higher in Black women, compared to their white counterparts.