Pitt Researchers to Study New Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer Patients
“It is our hope that blocking autophagy, a new approach to treating cancer, will improve the efficacy of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Dr. Michael Lotze.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michael Lotze, MD, professor of surgery, immunology, and bioengineering, and assistant vice chancellor, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, is the co-principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) 5-year grant of more than $1.5 million to study a novel treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), the most common form of pancreatic cancer. Herbert J. Zeh III, MD, associate professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology at University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC CancerCenter, is also a co-principal investigator on the award.
PDA is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The 5-year survival of patients suffering from PDA is less than 5 percent.
The pair hypothesize that the cancer progresses and is difficult to treat because of a biological pathway called autophagy, a form of programmed cell survival that tumor cells use to avoid apoptosis, or cell death.
“It is our hope that blocking autophagy, a new approach to treating cancer, will improve the efficacy of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Dr. Lotze.
“Our goal with this award is to improve the quality of life for patients with pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Zeh.
Illustration: The pancreas. –Wikipedia.
UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Media Relations Press Release (01/02/14)
Pittsburgh Business Times (01/06/14)
Bio: Dr. Michael Lotze