Cell hunters: the quest to rapidly deliver personalized medicine to pancreatic cancer patients

Abnormal pancreas cells that have not yet turned into cancer

Abnormal pancreas cells that have not yet turned into cancer

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of blogs that focus on members of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. Led by an inter-disciplinary team of scientists and clinicians, the Center holds the promise to significantly change the bleak statistics associated with this disease by revolutionizing pancreatic cancer care. One therapeutic tool they are advancing involves gathering pancreatic cancer cells from the bloodstream, assembling them into replicas of a patient’s tumor and testing various drug combinations on the copies to develop personalized medicine for each patient.

Pancreatic cancer patients are getting closer to the day when a small amount of their own blood will provide enough information so that doctors can recommend personalized treatments targeting the whole tumor. If you ask Diane Simeone, M.D., the Lazar J. Greenfield Professor of Surgery and director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center, this vision of the future may become reality in the next five years. Continue reading

Cell hunters: the quest to diagnose pancreatic cancer early

pancreatic cancer cells

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blogs that focus on members of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Center. Led by an inter-disciplinary team of scientists and clinicians, the Center holds the promise to significantly change the bleak statistics associated with this disease by revolutionizing pancreatic cancer care. One diagnostic tool they are advancing involves detecting pancreatic cancer cells in the bloodstream before any sign of cancer is obvious through current diagnostic techniques. The successful hunt for these cells would result in a tool for earlier detection, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

The first thing you notice about Diane Simeone, M.D., the Lazar J. Greenfield Professor of Surgery and director of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, is her tireless passion for finding better ways to detect and treat pancreatic cancer. So far, the survival prospects for this disease are dismal, she’ll tell you. Continue reading

Pancreatic cancer will be second-leading cause of cancer death by 2030

pancreatic cancer

Diane Simeone, M.D.

A new analysis out today projects that pancreatic cancer will be the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States by 2030, behind lung cancer. Pancreatic cancer will leapfrog breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, which are currently top killers. The analysis is from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

We talked with Diane Simeone, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Pancreatic Cancer Center, about what this new analysis means. Dr. Simeone, a pancreatic cancer surgeon and researcher, is on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s National Scientific Continue reading

Speeding Promising Discoveries to Clinical Trials

Diane Simeone, M.D., in the new Translational Oncology Program laboratory space at the North Campus Research Complex.

Laboratory research is key to understanding how cancer works. But when scientists discover a new gene or pathway that’s involved in cancer, much more work needs to happen before that translates into new treatments for people with cancer.

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is launching a new Translational Oncology Program to bridge that gap in a more meaningful way and speed promising new treatments through laboratory testing and into clinical trials.

“The University of Michigan is well known for its strength in basic science. Now, we have the opportunity with the Translational Oncology Program to really make a difference in patients’ lives — which is the real reason we are all here,” says Diane Simeone, M.D., who has been named director of the new program.

The program will be housed at the University’s North Campus Research Complex, a 2.1 million square foot facility purchased by the University from Pfizer Corp. The space here will allow Dr. Simeone to bring together cancer researchers from across the campus who are focused on cancer. Up to 40 investigators will eventually be part of this new program, including teams looking at experimental therapeutics, cancer stem cells, molecular imaging and genomics.

Learn more about the Translational Oncology Program. To find about clinical trials that are currently available, call the nurses at Cancer AnswerLine at 800-865-1125.

Finding the right doctor to treat pancreatic cancer

Finding a doctor can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re facing a pancreatic cancer–a relatively rare, but deadly, diagnosis. Diane Simeone, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s pancreatic cancer research program, recently offered tips to the Lustgarten Foundation about how patients can find the best care for them. The Lustgarten Foundation is a private organization that funds pancreatic cancer research. Each year, 38,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Visit the Cancer Center’s website to read the interview.