OCT 11, 2017 1:30 PM PDT

Pancreatic Cancer: Challenges and Solutions

  • Chief Science Officer, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
      Lynn M. Matrisian, PhD, MBA, is Chief Science Officer at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, based in Manhattan Beach, CA and Washington DC. She focuses on understanding and impacting the scientific and medical activities within the pancreatic cancer field to advance the organizations goal to double survival from pancreatic cancer by the year 2020. She has oversight of the organization's research activities, including the Grants Program, Clinical Trial Finder, Patient Registry, Know Your Tumor and Early Detection Initiative, and sits on the Executive Committee of the personalized medicine initiative Precision Promise.
      Dr. Matrisian is formerly Professor and the founding Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University. She received her PhD in molecular biology from the University of Arizona and MBA from Vanderbilt University. She is past President of the American Association of Cancer Research, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, and the recipient of the Paget-Ewing award from the Metastasis Research Society. She served as co-chair of the National Cancer Institute's Translational Research Working Group and Special Assistant to the Director of the NCI. Research in her laboratory revolved around the molecular mechanisms underlying tumor progression and metastasis, with emphasis on the biology of matrix-degrading proteinases.


    Pancreatic cancer is one of the “deadly” cancers, defined as those with a 5-year relative survival rate of less than 50%.  Although ranking 12th in terms of incidence, it is on track to become the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2020.  The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) set a goal of doubling survival by 2020, identified 5 specific challenges that need to be addressed, and initiated approaches to contribute to their solution.  There are not enough researchers or research, the clinical trial enrollment rate is too low, clinical trials need to be streamlined and focused, there is insufficient public awareness, and most patients are seen in the community setting where there is little experience with the disease.  Through advocating for government resources, the NCI allocation to pancreatic cancer has increased 5-fold since 1999, with several new research initiatives that resulted from the passage of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act in 2013.  Patient Central associates served more than 33,000 patients and families last year, providing disease and treatment information, support resources, and clinical trial searches.  The Patient Registry collects information from individual patients, learns best practices, and disseminates information on topics such as the use of pancreatic enzyme replace therapy to the scientific community.  The Know Your Tumor ® initiative has enrolled more than 1300 patients from across the US, and delivered almost 700 reports thus far detailing the results from genomic and proteomic analysis of tumor tissue with treatment options based on the molecular profiling and consideration of treatment history.  These results indicate that 25% of pancreatic cancer patients have “actionable alterations” that indicate a targeted therapy, and that the median progression-free survival of patients that utilize a report-directed targeted therapy increased by 46% over those with no highly actionable alteration.  The clinical trial landscape in pancreatic cancer has changed over the past 5 years, with a doubling of those trials that test a targeted therapy and an increase in trials for recurrent disease.  The accrual of pancreatic adenocarcinoma patients to clinical trials increased from 3.8% in 2011 to 4.2% in 2014; this is at least in part attributed to increased awareness of clinical trials through PanCAN’s Clinical Trial Finder (12% of those who access this service enroll in a clinical trial) and Know Your Tumor ® initiatives (21% of participants enroll in a clinical trial).  PanCAN is initiating Precision PromiseSM , a clinical trial and research platform with the mission of continuously and rapidly evaluating novel treatment options for pancreatic cancer.  Public awareness of the disease is raised with a volunteer presence in 90 communities throughout the US and leadership in the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition.  A comprehensive approach to the disease, through Government Affairs, Research Grants & Clinical Initiatives, Patient Services, and Community Engagement, has resulted in significant advances on multiple fronts, helping to propel the field towards achieving the goal of doubling survival by 2020 and using that as a platform for continued and sustained improvements in the years to come.

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    OCT 11, 2017 1:30 PM PDT

    Pancreatic Cancer: Challenges and Solutions





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