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THE LUSTGARTEN FOUNDATION SUPPORTS ACCELERATED
PRECLINICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CANCER-FIGHTING THERAPIES
The Lustgarten Foundation, the nation’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research, is
partnering with the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Advanced Preclinical Research
(CAPR), to conduct pre-clinical trials that could potentially benefit individuals with cancer,
specifically with pancreatic cancer.
New therapeutic approaches will be developed and evaluated through collaborations between
Lustgarten-funded scientists and CAPR with the goal to bring effective treatments to patients.
The inaugural study will test the effectiveness of combining calcipotriol, a synthetic derivative
of Vitamin D, and gemcitabine, a drug used in cancer care, to fight cancer and pancreatic cancer
tumors. This is the first time these drugs will be tested together.
Using a genetically engineered mouse pancreatic cancer model, the study will assess the ability
of calcipotriol and gemcitabine combined to travel through the tumor’s few surrounding blood
vessels in order to penetrate the tumor, which is notoriously difficult to infiltrate due to its thick
stromal layer. If this drug combination is successful in mice, clinicians will investigate the ability
of this approach to extend the survival time for pancreatic cancer patients.
The study is being led by Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological
Studies, and Terry A. Van Dyke, Ph.D., director of CAPR at NCI. Dr. Evans previously
examined the effects of calcipotriol in the fight against liver fibrosis which shares similar
properties to that of a pancreatic cancer tumor stroma. His successful study found that the
Vitamin D synthetic stopped the formation of fibrosis in the liver, and the hope is that it may
have a similar effect on pancreatic cancer stroma.
“Our partnership with The Lustgarten Foundation enables us to extend promising discoveries
from expert scientists, as with the Evans project, and, in collaboration, apply them to the
development of treatments for cancer patients. The approach takes advantage of the Center’s vast
expertise in preclinical model evaluation, along with the extensive integrated technologies of the
Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.” said Terry Van Dyke, director of CAPR.
“If this study confirms that this therapeutic combination designed by the Evans group has a
positive impact, it could be the key to unlocking further improvements in treating this deadly
disease.”
“We are honored to combine our funding and expertise with NCI’s prestigious CAPR program
for this important study, which will provide critical data for identifying and developing new
treatment options for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” said Kerri Kaplan, executive
director of The Lustgarten Foundation. “We recognize that in order to advance our understanding
of pancreatic cancer, cooperating on research is essential.”