Stand Up To Cancer Launches ‘Cancer Interception’ Teams to Detect and Treat Cancer at Earliest Stages


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Phillip A. Sharp, PhD

Phillip A. Sharp, PhD

Stand Up To Cancer, joined by the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, LUNGevity, and the American Lung Association, announced that four teams of top researchers will study lung and pancreatic cancers using a new approach of “cancer interception” at their earliest stages.

“The Stand Up To Cancer Cancer Interception initiative is focused on developing both the technologies needed to find cancer or precancerous activity at its earlier possible juncture and the treatments to stop its progression,” said Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, institute Professor at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Nobel laureate, and Chairman of Stand Up To Cancer’s Scientific Advisory Committee. 

The four teams cover a range of approaches to the early detection and treatment of cancer and were selected by Stand Up To Cancer Joint Scientific Advisory Committees in a process managed by American Association of Cancer Research.

Cancer Dream Teams

The Stand Up To Cancer–Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Dream Team: Intercepting Pancreatic Cancer in High-Risk Cohorts, led by Anirban Maitra, MBBS; Michael G. Goggins, MD; and Scott M. Lippman, MD, will perform genetic screening on family members of 2,000 people who already have pancreatic cancer who may have a higher risk of developing disease. Positive mutation carriers will then be tested with sophisticated and sensitive imaging techniques to detect smaller cancers missed by the human eye. A smaller group of people with precancerous lesions in the pancreas will be given a vaccine intended to induce the body’s own immune system to attack the cancer. Finally, the team aims to develop a blood test for pancreatic cancer to be used for people at high risk, such as those with new-onset diabetes.

The Stand Up To Cancer–LUNGevity–American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Dream Team: Intercept Lung Cancer Through Immune, Imaging, and Molecular Evaluation (InTIME), led by Avrum Spira, MD, and Steven Dubinett, MD, will develop diagnostic tools, such as nasal swabs, blood tests, and radiologic imaging, to confirm whether lung abnormalities found on chest imaging are benign lung disease or lung cancer. To protect against recurrence of disease that has already been successfully treated, new blood tests will help identify patients at the earliest stages of recurrence, enabling timely interventions such as immunotherapy.

The Stand Up To Cancer–Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Translational Research Team: Developing Novel Approaches to Test and Evaluate Early Pancreatic Cancer, led by David P. Ryan, MD, and Alec Kimmelman, MD, PhD, will test new and intensive preoperative treatments to allow more patients to achieve a complete resection and eradicate micrometastatic disease. The team will conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the addition of losartan, a drug that may enhance the efficacy of FOLFIRINOX (leucovorin, fluorouracil, irinotecan, oxaliplatin) in patients with pancreatic cancer by altering the tumor microenvironment. The team will also evaluate the addition of immunotherapy to FOLFIRINOX and losartan. Finally, it will use organoids to determine whether they can be used to predict patient response to FOLFIRINOX and other therapies.

The Stand Up To Cancer–LUNGevity–American Lung Association Lung Cancer Interception Translational Research Team: Blood-Based Early Interception of Lung Cancer, led by Lecia V. Sequist, MD, MPH, and Maximilian Diehn, MD, PhD, will develop a lung cancer interception assay that can be used in conjunction with low-dose computed tomography scans, based on blood-based assays that examine circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA. After completing pilot testing as part of this translational research grant, the team plans to move this assay forward to larger, prospective clinical trials. ■


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