SU2C Dream Team Progress Reports
Posted on March 7, 2014, 7:00 AM
Stand Up To Cancer is founded on the idea that by bringing together the best scientists in the world to develop new treatments quickly, life-saving treatments can make it from the lab to the patients who need them most in shorter time frames. These scientific collaborations among the best and the brightest are known as SU2C Dream Teams, and while you can always read the teams’ detailed progress reports here, they can be difficult to understand without a scientific background.
Below, you can learn about the SU2C Dream Teams’ progress in more common language, so you can keep up with the sorts of exciting progress taking place as of the most recent Dream Team Progress Reports, December 2013. This first in a series of three blogs contains updates on the Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team, the PI3K Dream Team, and the CTC-Chip Dream Team.
Cutting off the Fuel Supply: A New Approach to the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is notorious for its death rate: more than 70% of patients die within a year of diagnosis. Scientists and patients alike have been frustrated in the search for effective treatments. Thus the SU2C Dream Team had to try a novel strategy. They took the approach of trying to starve the cancer cells of the energy they need to reproduce – energy they get from the amino acid glutamine.
The team tested a combination of an anticancer drug called Abraxane with the standard treatment, gemcitabine, in pancreatic cancer patients undergoing therapy for the first time. They found a significant reduction – by 28% – in mortality risk. The median overall survival time was 8.5 months, compared with 6.7 months on the standard therapy. The overall rate of response to the experimental therapy was 23% compared with 7% on the standard therapy. The Abraxane- gemcitabine combination is now recognized as a first-line therapy for metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
PI3K Dream Team
The cells that make up the human body are controlled by a complicated internal signaling system that tells them what to do. Some signals related to cell growth travel along a pathway called PI3K. If this pathway is disrupted, cells don’t get the message to stop reproducing, and uncontrolled growth – cancer – can occur. PI3K pathway disruption occurs in many types of cancer, particularly cancers of the breast, ovaries, and endometrium – women’s cancers.
The SU2C Dream Team on women’s cancers is led by scientists in New York and Texas who did much of the pioneering work on the PI3K pathway and includes scientists from leading institutions in this country and Spain working collaboratively, plus patient advocates. They are working with drugs that are designed to block abnormal signaling in the PI3K pathway. The team is conducting clinical trials to determine which cancers will response positively to the drugs. At the 42-month mark, the team has completed several trials, has others still underway, and expects to open others soon. The team is also working to identify biomarkers that will indicate how likely a patient is to respond to the therapy.
CTC Chip Dream Team
CTC (Haber and Toner)
Cancer spreads through the body (metastasizes) when cells break off from the original tumor and are carried by the bloodstream to other organs or bones. These “circulating tumor cells” (CTCs) are hard to find because there may be only one in a billion blood cells. Stand Up To Cancer is supporting the development of a tiny device that can capture CTCs from just a teaspoon of blood from a cancer patient.
The CTC-chip is about the size of a business card and holds 80,000 microscopic posts that are coated with an antibody that can attach to the cancer cells. Scientists can analyze the captured cells to detect cancer at an early stage, follow how well treatment is working, and help develop new drugs. The chip is being developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and being tested there and at three other institutions. Patient advocates also work with the team. Results as of 42 months indicate that the chip is successfully finding cancer-causing cells. The team is also developing an even more advanced device called the iChip, which will allow scientists to study CTC in a variety of new ways.
Next in the series: the Epigenetic Dream Team, the Breast Cancer Dream Team, and the SU2C-PCF Prostate Dream Team. Be sure to follow SU2C on Facebook and keep an eye out for future progress reports.
Return to Blog
- SU2C Dream Team Progress Reports
- Keep Going. We Believe In You.
- The Sunset Doesn’t Last Forever
- The SU2C Scientific Summit: A Peek Inside
- Running With Purpose
- SU2C’s Collaborative Approach to Research Yields Another Success
- Kevin Williams’ “If We Live”
- MLB Launches Its Second SU2C Auction
- Grafton High School Has No Stomach For Cancer
- Relieving the Emotional Pain of Cancer