New Precision Medicine Approach for Treatment of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

Columbia University is awarded by the Lustgarten Foundation to fund a phase 1b clinical trial of a precision medicine approach to treat metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Conventional methods for treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer targets DNA mutations, which are predicted to drive patient’s tumor. About 15% of individuals with pancreatic ductal carcinoma (PDA) are likely to benefit from these conventional DNA mutation-based therapies and most of those respond or relapse with a drug-resistant from of the disease. However, this approach is limited to a small fraction of individuals suffering from the most common forms of the cancer. The grant will also be used to fund preclinical studies for the development of drug regimens for PDA patients based on their OncoTreat profile. The New York-based Lustgarten Foundation is a leading private foundation committed to funding pancreatic cancer research.

Using the new approach, researchers studied the RNA, the tissue-specific copy of a cancer cell’s DNA, rather than the DNA itself. This will give a much more accurate picture of the genetic programs operating inside a tumor that enable its survival. The patient can then be matched to approve investigational drugs that can inhibit such programs. In a preliminary test of this approach, called OncoTreat, researchers matched at least one drug to patients in 85% of cases.

According to Precision Medicine Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, precision medicine approach tailors the treatment according to the individual’s genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environment. These proteins integrate the effect of individual genomic alterations and make cancer cells impervious to a wide range of perturbations, including those resulting from conventional drug treatment. Andrea Califano, co-leader of the grant explains “OncoTreat identifies drugs that can invert the activity of a novel class of cryptic cancer targets, called master regulator proteins.”

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