SU2C Scientific Research Teams

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Cutting the Fuel Supply: A New Approach to the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer

Team Leaders

  • Craig B. Thompson, M.D.
    Craig B. Thompson, M.D.
    Team Leader
    President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    + Full Bio
  • Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D.
    Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D.
    Team Leader
    Physician in Chief & Senior Investigator, Director, Clinical Translational Research Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
    + Full Bio

“Every single person on this team has lost somebody to pancreatic cancer… many of us see patients with it every single day… We can do things, we can help with their pain, we can improve their survival some. But we want to do something dramatic.” - Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D

About this Team's Research

As the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer. More than 90 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Recent advancements have had little impact, and a new approach is desperately needed.

This Dream Team combines two distinct proposals to marry the approaches of two of the world’s leading specialists in pancreatic cancer research, Doctors Craig Thompson and Daniel Von Hoff.

This powerhouse team is building on a common idea in cancer research - “starve” cancer cells to death by depriving them of a specific nutrient that they require for survival. Most cancer cells become addicted to a continual supply of specific nutrients to produce the energy needed for survival and proliferation. In most cancers, this nutrient is glucose.

Pancreatic cancer presents a unique challenge because it is addicted to another molecule, glutamine, rather than glucose. Cancers that use excess glutamine are often resistant to standard forms of chemotherapy, a key characteristic of pancreatic cancer.

This Dream Team is developing tests using advanced imaging techniques to determine what nutrients pancreatic cancer cells require to fuel their growth and survival. Understanding the cell’s fuel supply will help scientists to develop more individualized treatments with fewer side effects. The Dream Team has begun a series of clinical trials designed to deprive pancreatic tumors of crucial nutrients. The Team is testing drugs in combination with existing standard chemotherapy, with the hope to increase the percentage of pancreatic cancer patients surviving beyond one year while improving quality of life.

Click here to see a full list of Dream Team members
Click here to visit the Pancreatic Dream Team website

Watch a short video in which Pancreatic Cancer Team leaders Von Hoff and Tompson talk about the science behind their project: