Pancreatic Cancer Research Update –
Spring 2022 Symposium

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Teams from OICR’s PanCuRx program and the Hebrew University’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada met on zoom in April for the 1st Alex U. Soyka Pancreatic Cancer Research Project: Phase II Symposium.

This exchange of fundamental and translational science was a truly unique and productive Ontario/Israel collaboration. Progress was shared in their collaborative efforts to understand early events in pancreatic tumorigenesis, develop novel screening techniques, improve immunotherapy strategies and more.

As Dr. Steve Gallinger, Head, Clinical Translation, OICR and co-leads OICR’s Translational Research Initiative focused on pancreatic cancer (PanCuRx), expressed after the symposium: Pancreatic cancer remains deadly, yet real progress has been made over the past couple of years. The PanCuRx COMPASS dataset of chemo-naïve advanced disease is a powerful high-content clinical/genomics resource being accessed by investigators worldwide. The team’s strengths in genomics, bioinformatics and translational oncology are leading to improved outcomes for patients in real time.

Dr. Gallinger was recently struck by a brief report from the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami on strikingly good responses to checkpoint inhibitors in homologous repair deficient pancreatic cancer, a genotype that this partnership has been focusing on for a number of years. The authors refer to work from a prior Ontario graduate student, Joan Romero, who reported on a chemokine biomarker panel which could help select pancreatic cancer patients with a ‘not-so-cold’ tumor for this strategy. To quote Dr. Gallinger, “It’s always exciting to see how our work is being translated into patient care.”

The strengths of OICR and the PanCuRx team, along with Sylvia Soyka’s unwavering vision and support,have served as powerful leverage to build a highly successful international team.