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The goal of the lab's research is to identify molecular abnormalities that can improve the outcome of patients with pancreatic cancer and those at risk of developing this disease. Much of our work is focused on translational research evaluating markers and marker technologies that can help screen patients with an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Thus, marker efforts have been focused mostly on identifying markers of advanced precancerous neoplasia (PanINs and IPMNs) that could improve our ability to effectively screen patients at risk of developing pancreatic cancer. We lead or participate in a number of clinical research protocols involved in the screening and early detection of pancreatic neoplasia including the CAPS clinical trials. We maintain a large repository of specimens from cases and controls with and without pancreatic disease and use this repository to investigate candidate markers of pancreatic cancer for their utility to predict pancreatic cancer risk.
In addition, we have been working to identify familial pancreatic cancer susceptibility genes and identified BRCA2 as a pancreatic cancer susceptibility gene in 1996. We participate in the PACGENE consortium and the familial pancreatic cancer sequencing initiative. My lab also investigates pancreatic cancer genetics, epigenetics, molecular pathology, tumor stromal interactions and functional analysis of candidate genes and miRNAs. Dr. Goggins is the principal investigator of a phase I/II clinical trial evaluating the Parp inhibitor, olaparib along with irinotecan and cisplatin for patients with pancreatic cancer. view less
Current projects include:
The evaluation of mechanisms of immune tolerance to cancer in mouse models of breast and pancreatic cancer. We have characterized the HER-2/neu transgenic mouse model of spontaneous mammary tumors.
This model demonstrates immune tolerance to the HER-2/neu gene product. This model is being used to better understand the mechanisms of tolerance to tumor. In addition, this model is being used to develop vaccine strategies that can overcome this tolerance and induce immunity potent enough to prevent and treat naturally developing tumors. More recently, we are using a genetic model of pancreatic cancer developed to understand the early inflammatory changes that promote cancer development.
The identification of human tumor antigens recognized by T cells. We are using a novel functional genetic approach developed in our laboratory. Human tumor specific T cells from vaccinated patients are used to identify immune relevant antigens that are chosen... based on an initial genomic screen of overexpressed gene products. Several candidate targets have been identified and the prevelence of vaccine induced immunity has been assessed .
This rapid screen to identify relevant antigenic targets will allow us to begin to dissect the mechanisms of tumor immunity induction and downregulation at the molecular level in cancer patients. More recently, we are using proteomics to identify proteins involved in pancreatic cancer development. We recently identified Annexin A2 as a molecule involved in metastases.
The analysis of antitumor immune responses in patients enrolled on vaccine studies. The focus is on breast and pancreatic cancers. We are atttempting to identify in vitro correlates of in vivo antitumor immunity induced by vaccine strategies developed in the laboratory and currently under study in the clinics. view less
Zheng’s research focuses on two R01-funded projects; first, the group has developed a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy research program on a neoadjuvant therapy platform as well as a number of preclinical models of pancreatic cancer for developing innovative immunotherapy strategies. The group has applied the knowledge gained from pancreatic cancer immune-based therapies to the development of a colorectal cancer GVAX vaccine. Second, the group is aimed at understanding the mechanistic roles of the tumor microenvironment in cancer development and metastasis and identifying new targets for pancreatic cancer therapies by dissecting the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancer.
Marcia Canto Lab
Research interests in the Marcia Canto Lab include pancreatic neoplasms, Barrett’s esophagus and endomicroscopy. We are also interested in the use of endoscopic ultrasound to identify early-stage pancreatic cancer and its precursors.
The Penet lab is within the Division of Cancer Imaging Research in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. The lab research focuses on using multimodal imaging techniques to better understand the microenvironment and improve cancer early detection, especially in ovarian cancer. By combining MRI, MRS and optical imaging, we are studying the tumor microenvironment to understand the role of hypoxia, tumor vascularization, macromolecular transport and tumor metabolism in tumor progression, metastasis and ascites formation in orthotopic models of cancer. We also are studying the role of tumor-associated macrophages in tumor progression.