The Lustgarten Foundation and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) report that the new Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory is now in operation. The lab’s initial studies will center on early detection, drug development, and drug delivery.

David Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D., who serves jointly as the Foundation’s director of research and a CSHL professor, will direct and lead research efforts at the laboratory. He and the Foundation’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Consortium of six medical institutions plan to identify, prioritize, and develop targeted research aimed at ultimately finding a cure for this deadly disease. The new lab will be based at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

“Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal of all cancers,” noted Lustgarten Foundation Executive Director Kerri Kaplan. “That’s why we remain dedicated to advancing pancreatic cancer research in order to detect the disease earlier, develop better treatments, and, ultimately, find a cure.”

More than 37,000 people are expected to die from pancreatic cancer this year. The overall five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is six percent and most with advanced cancer die within a year. There are no early detection tests, no effective long-term treatments, and, unless the cancer is surgically removed in its earliest stages, no cure. It is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

The Tuveson lab has developed mouse models of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) to discover biomarkers of early disease and to identify the pathways and druggable targets involved in the initiation, progression, and metastasis of PDA. Efforts are also underway to come up with efficacious therapeutic strategies.

“We have discovered that PDAC tumors contain a deficient and compressed vasculature that limits therapeutic delivery and therefore efficacy,” notes Dr. Tuveson. “Using these models we have uncovered several methods to correct or target these vascular deficits and promote response, and this information has led to the initiation of several clinical trials.

“At CSHL we will search for new vulnerabilities in PDAC neoplastic and microenvironmental cells, and evaluate these candidates in a futuristic ‘Mouse Hospital’ we are creating on campus.”

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