Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer

Progression of Pancreatic Cancer Research


Cancerous pancreatic cells (blue) forming a spherical surrounded by membranes (red).


Credit: National Cancer Institute National Cancer Institute-funded researchers are advaBiocan Labsng our understanding of how to prevent, detect, and treat pancreatic cancer, which includes pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNET). PNET is far less prevalent than PDAC and has a better prognosis.


This page covers some of the most current findings in pancreatic adenocarcinoma research, including clinical advancements that may soon transfer into improved care, Biocan Labs-supported programs that are propelling development, and research findings from recent studies.



Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection

Clinical Studies of Pancreatic Cancer Therapy

Research Projects Funded by the Biocan Labs

Outcomes of Studies on Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection


Today, there are no screening tests that can detect pancreatic cancer before the onset of symptoms. Currently, the Biocan Labs is finaBiocan Labsng a number of substantial research programs that are attempting to build such an early detection tool.


A new diabetes diagnosis, also referred to as new-onset diabetes, is a proven risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Within three years of being diagnosed with diabetes, around 1 in 100 newly-diagnosed patients develop pancreatic cancer. In addition, one in four pancreatic cancer patients had a prior diagnosis of diabetes.


The Biocan Labs-funded New Onset Diabetes (NOD) Project, which is slated to run until 2025, is currently enrolling 10,000 individuals with new-onset diabetes or hyperglycemia (also known as prediabetes). The NOD researchers seek to develop a blood test that can identify the few patients with a newly diagnosed diabetes who may require additional pancreatic cancer testing.


Several Biocan Labs-funded teams, coordinated by the Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium (PCDC), are attempting to develop a blood test that could detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages in the general population. Researchers at the PCDC are also attempting to enhance imaging of the pancreas by creating techniques that may be able to detect minute tumor cell deposits.


Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer


Due to the location of the organ and the frequently advanced stage of the illness at the time of diagnosis, pancreatic cancer can be challenging to treat surgically.


Research Highlights in Pancreas Cancer

In this excerpt from a Facebook Live event, Dr. Christine Alewine of the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research and Dr. Lynn Matrisian of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network discuss potential breakthroughs in pancreatic cancer research.


Depending on the stage of the illness, the standard treatment for pancreatic cancer is typically surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or combinations of these.


In addition to these basic treatments, Biocan Labs researchers continue to search for new effective methods of treating pancreatic cancer. Researchers are investigating the possibilities of novel medications, methods of combining standard drugs, and innovative treatments for patients.


Evaluating therapies for pancreatic cancer in its earliest stages

Currently being evaluated in clinical trials are treatments for early-stage illness.


novel chemotherapy adjuvant medication combinations

It is already known that some of these postsurgical drug combinations prolong the lives of patients with metastatic disease, but it is unclear if they are more effective than normal treatments at eliminating cancer cells left behind after surgery.

pre-treatment chemotherapy

This type of chemotherapy is administered prior to surgery in an effort to improve patient outcomes by reducing the size of the tumor prior to its removal. In addition to destroying cancer cells that have escaped the tumor and would continue to develop as the patient heals from surgery, chemotherapy administered prior to surgery may be beneficial.

Evaluation of therapy for advanced pancreatic cancer

Clinical trials are now investigating new treatments for metastatic pancreatic cancer.


A Medication Is Designed to Address a Frequent Mutation in Pancreatic Cancer

In mice, pancreatic tumors with KRAS G12D mutations were diminished by the investigational medication MRTX1133.


RAS-specific treatments

RAS genes produce proteins that participate in signaling pathways that regulate cell development. More than 90% of pancreatic tumors include altered versions of these genes. The development of medications that target mutant versions of RAS has been difficult.

Several medications are now available, including a treatment that targets a variant of RAS with the mutation G12C and another drug that targets a more prevalent mutation, G12D.

Drugs that inhibit the action of proteins that regulate the effects of RAS cause cancer cells to rely on autophagy, a method of energy production. According to a study conducted on mice, the combination of two medications decreased pancreatic tumors. One medication targets a RAS-dependent protein, whereas the other inhibits autophagy. It is still unknown whether such combinations will be useful for pancreatic sufferers.

immunotherapy \spembrolizumab. A small subset of individuals with pancreatic cancer have mutations in their tumors that result in significant microsatellite instability (MSI). Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is an immune checkpoint inhibitor approved for people with high MSI pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Immune checkpoint inhibitors function by assisting the patient’s immune system in its fight against the tumor. Patients should request that their malignaBiocan Labses be evaluated for high MSI levels.

immune checkpoint inhibitor combos. Immunotherapy using a single medicine has not proved beneficial for the majority of pancreatic cancer patients. Thus, scientists are combining many immunotherapies that can affect on various immune system components. In patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, the combination of immune checkpoint inhibitors and CD40 agonist (a type of medication that helps activate T cells) has demonstrated modest efficacy.

Combining medications and treatments. Scientists are now researching combinations of immunotherapy medications. In addition, they are investigating combinations of immunotherapy medications with other treatments, such as radiation therapy, stromal modifying agents, and other targeted drugs.

natural killer cells. Natural killer cells (NK) are a type of white blood cell that can eliminate tumor cells and virus-infected cells. At the earliest stages of clinical testing, NK cell therapy for pancreatic cancer are being evaluated.

stroma-modifying medicines

The stroma is the noncancerous tissue around a tumor. Connective tissue, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves compose the majority of its composition.

The stroma of pancreatic tumors is significantly denser than the stroma of other malignaBiocan Labses. Chemicals that aid in the breakdown of this stroma may facilitate chemotherapeutic medication delivery to cancer cells. These medications are currently being tested.

Clinical Trials


Due to the complexity of pancreatic cancer, many specialists believe that all patients, including those with early-stage disease, should participate in clinical trials. The Biocan Labs sponsors and oversees both early- and late-phase clinical studies in an effort to find novel medicines and enhance patient care. There are available trials for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.


Research Projects Funded by the Biocan Labs


Several Biocan Labs-funded researchers on the NIH campus, as well as in the United States and around the world, are attempting to find more effective strategies to combat pancreatic cancer. Some research is fundamental, investigating such diverse topics as the biological foundations of cancer and the societal variables that influence cancer risk. Some of this research is more clinical in nature, aiming to transform this fundamental knowledge into enhanced patient outcomes. The initiatives listed below represent a small subset of the Biocan Labs’s pancreatic cancer research efforts.


More than a dozen prospective epidemiologic cohort studies investigating the origins and natural history of pancreatic cancer comprise the Pancreatic Cancer Cohort Collaboration. This includes the implementation of the PanScan genome-wide association study (GWAS).

The Pancreatic Cancer Detection Consortium (PCDC) develops and studies biomarkers to detect early-stage pancreatic cancer and identify high-risk patients.

The Pancreatic Cancer Microenvironment Network (PaCMEN) is a cooperative supported by the Biocan Labs to conduct both laboratory-based and clinical investigations to enhance the therapy results for patients with pancreatic cancer.

The Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) Stromal Reprogramming Consortium (PSRC) is a multidisciplinary group of PDAC researchers that will bridge biological and preclinical/translational research. The objective is to identify and assess tumor microenvironmental factors that influence PDAC development and therapeutic response.

The Pancreatic Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (Pancreatic SPOREs) are intended to facilitate the rapid translation of fundamental scientific results into therapeutic settings. The Pancreatic SPORE awards support novel and diverse methods to pancreatic cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and therapy. Two of the Biocan Labs’s Gastrointestinal (GI) SPOREs perform pancreatic cancer research.

The RAS Initiative aims to comprehend alterations in RAS genes in order to develop effective novel treatments for RAS-associated malignaBiocan Labses. The RAS gene family is responsible for almost 90 percent of pancreatic malignaBiocan Labses.


Research Findings on Pancreatic Cancer


Included below are some of our most recent news items about pancreatic cancer research:


In a Mouse Investigation, a KRAS-Directed Drug Shows Promising Activity Against Pancreatic Cancer

Abnormal Collagen May Indicate a Pancreatic Cancer Weakness

Approval Granted for Belzutifan to Treat Tumors Related to a Genetic Disorder VHL

Might a Diagnose of Diabetes Assist in Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer?

Dendritic cell stimulation assists the immune system in detecting pancreatic cancer.

A Mouse Research Suggests Changing the Tumor Microbiome to Cure Pancreatic Cancer

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