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Foundation-Funded Researchers to Present Results of Gastrointestinal Cancer Research

In 2014 an estimated 289,610 new cases of gastrointestinal (GI) cancers – which

include tumors of the colon, rectum, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, anus, gallbladder, liver, small intestine, and bile duct – will be diagnosed in the United States.  The Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) is working to improve cancer care for people diagnosed with GI and virtually all other cancer types by funding the work of bright young researchers.  CCF grantees are often selected to present the results of their research in prestigious medical journals and at scientific meetings around the world, such as the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, being held January 16-18, in San Francisco, California. 

One such researcher presenting at this year’s GI Symposium is Dung Le, MD. Research led by Dr. Le, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, was selected as one of five key studies to be featured in the 2014 GI Symposium Press Program, which highlights some of the key cancer advances to be presented at the meeting.  Dr. Le received a 2008 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Career Development Award (CDA) for her Phase I research project evaluating the CRS 207 cancer vaccine in patients with advanced cancers for whom conventional therapy has not worked.  

“This is the first time a randomized study has shown that immunotherapy is effective in pancreatic cancer. This study is just a first step, and we believe we’ll be able to take this approach further

-Dung Le, MD

Results from Dr. Le’s 2008 CDA supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation led to a phase II clinical trial where Dr. Le and her team have identified a promising vaccine combination for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. 

New findings from this Phase II study suggest that treatment with two different anti-cancer vaccines, GVAX Pancreas followed by CRS-207, improves survival compared with treatment with GVAX alone.  Dr. Le’s research was reported on in a number of top news outlets in the field, including HealthDayHemOnc TodayMedscape (login required), and others.

This year, the Foundation is supporting 12 Merit Awards in Gastrointestinal Cancer for trainees to present high-quality research at the GI Symposium.  In addition, 13 of the Foundation’s grant and award recipients, including Dr. Le, are presenting important research findings at the symposium on an array of topics, listed below.  To view summaries of the studies and results being presented by these Foundation-funded investigators, visit the online Meeting Program  after January 14, 5:00 pm ET.

The 13 Foundation grantees and their research titles are:

Chloe Atreya, MD, PhD (2011 YIA) – Molecular epidemiology of RAS/RAF-mutant colorectal cancer metastases.

Daniel Catenacci, MD (2009 YIA) – Toward personalized treatment for gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (GEC): Strategies to address tumor heterogeneity—PANGEA.

Anthony Conley, MD (2010 YIA) – Assessment and management of the risk of recurrence of resected gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

Dustin Deming, MD (2011 YIA) – Phospholipid ether analogs for the detection of colorectal cancers.

Yelena Janjigian, MD (2009 YIA, 2013 CDA) – A phase II study of afatinib in patients with metastatic  human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2)-positive trastuzumab-refractory esophagogastric  cancer.

Robin Kate Kelley, MD (2010 YIA) – Next-generation sequencing of serum microRNA in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients treated with sorafenib and an mTOR inhibitor.

Dung Le, MD (2008 CDA)

  • A phase II trial of low-dose multiagent chemotherapy with gemcitabine, docetaxel, capecitabine, and cisplatin (GTX-C) in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
  • A phase 2, randomized trial of GVAX pancreas and CRS-207 immunotherapy versus GVAX alone in patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma: Updated results

Noelle LoConte, MD (2006 YIA) – Effect of neoadjuvant therapy in patients with resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Rebecca Miksad, MD, MPH (2007 YIA) – Use of staging and scoring systems in hepatocellular carcinoma: Lessons from U.S. regional analysis of the GIDEON registry.

Van Morris, II, MD (2013 YIA)

  • Association of human papillomavirus with unique clinicopathologic features in patients with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal.
  • Efficiency of biomarker screening for enriched metastatic colorectal cancer trials: The ATTACC program experience.

Rachna Shroff, MD (2010 YIA) – Next-generation sequencing yields promising targets in advanced cholangiocarcinoma.

Wei Wang, MD, PhD (2005 YIA)

  • Use of decoy receptor 3 to block gemcitabine-induced apoptosis via binding with TRAIL in pancreatic cancer.
  • The enhanced antitumor effect of combined triptolide and paclitaxel on pancreatic cancer cell lines.

Elizabeth Won, MD (2013 YIA)

  • Activity of gemcitabine/5-FU combination in refractory esophagogastric cancer.
  • Can induction chemotherapy improve dysphagia in locally advanced esophageal/GEJ cancer?

Our Grants and Awards Program and cancer advances that result from the work of Foundation-funded researchers would not be possible without the generosity of donors who share our vision to create a world free from the fear of cancer. Please make a donation and join us as we work to support the future of cancer research.