Renewed Research Effort Focuses on “Undruggable” Mutation Found in 95 Percent of Pancreatic Cancers
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network partners with Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research on RAS Fellowships
Manhattan Beach, CA – (April 6, 2016) — Nearly all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are found to have a KRAS mutation, part of the RAS family of genes. To better understand the biochemistry of a mutated form of the KRAS protein in pancreatic cancer, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) have awarded two fellowships and two travel scholarships to postdoctoral scientists.
“The three leading cancer killers in the U.S., lung, colon and pancreatic, involve mutation of KRAS,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “Understanding KRAS would be an enormous game-changer for many cancers.”
The awards, which are based on a competitive peer-review process, are aligned with the RAS Initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a program established in 2013 to increase focus on the RAS family of oncogenes, which are mutated in more than 30 percent of all human cancers. The Initiative was launched as a result of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, whose passage was due in large part to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s advocacy efforts.
KRAS mutations are known to lead to extremely aggressive tumors, and the mutations’ prevalence in pancreatic cancer is one of the reasons that it’s one of the deadliest cancers. In fact, pancreatic cancer has moved from the fourth to the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
“Despite decades of believing that KRAS is ‘undruggable,’ advances in technology and research developments have reignited a national commitment,” said Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, National RAS Initiative Advisor for NCI. “Award recipients will focus on devising ways to block KRAS activity in order to stop or slow the progression of pancreatic cancer. We are hopeful their results will generate research outcomes for clinical benefit.”
The 2016 KRAS Fellowship Recipients:
Marco Biancucci, PhD
Northwestern University – Chicago Campus
2016 Samuel Stroum – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research KRAS Fellowship
Perry Kennedy, PhD
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
The 2016 KRAS Travel Scholarship Recipients:
Bjoern Papke, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kamini Singh, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
The awardees will receive training and mentorship at the FNLCR in Frederick, Md., to pursue individual research projects. Awardees are also included in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Community for Progress, which affords recipients the opportunity to participate in scientific meetings, establish research collaborations and engage with the broader pancreatic cancer community.
“Our unique partnership with the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research provides an opportunity to advance research and clinical outcomes, and move us closer toward our goal to double survival by 2020,” said Fleshman.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s 2016 research grant investment is $6.8 million, which will bring the total awarded since 2003 to more than $35 million.
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About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase survival for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative — The Vision of Progress: Double Pancreatic Cancer Survival by 2020. To continue to accelerate progress, a goal to raise $200 million by 2020 is also in place. Together, we can Wage Hope and rewrite the future of pancreatic cancer.
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