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Last Updated: 01/02/2020

NCI-funded Pancreatic Cancer Microenvironment Network (PaCMEN) Stimulates Research to Design New Immunotherapies and Interventions

NCI-funded Pancreatic Cancer Microenvironment Network (PaCMEN) Stimulates Research to Design New Immunotherapies and Interventions

In 2017, NCI provided funding in precision medicine oncology to six U.S. research institutions to stimulate research in the area of the pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) microenvironment with the ultimate goal of understanding the interaction between these highly lethal tumors and the microenvironment (RFA-CA-17-015 and RFA-CA-17-016). These grants, which are part of the Cancer Moonshot℠, fund the PaCMEN External Link consortium to better understand the role of inflammation in the genesis and progression of PDAC, the role of different effectors and suppressors of immune responses, the contribution of tumor stroma with the focus on its heterogeneity, and the function of tumor vasculature.

PaCMEN Goals

  • Study the tumor-microenvironment interactions in PDAC.
  • Discover vulnerabilities in these interactions that could be exploited in the design of immunotherapies, such as cancer vaccines, checkpoint inhibition, cellular therapies and their combination with other precision medicine interventions and radiation therapy.
  • Develop interventions that could lead to improved responses in pre-clinical models and clinical evaluation either in NCI-based early phase networks (Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network) or by industry or cancer centers.

PaCMEN Strategies

Studies are predominantly pre-clinical with the potential for translating the findings into clinical interventions in the future. Studies have a laboratory element and a human endpoint, which are either:

  • Investigations of specimens from a collaborative early phase clinical trial
  • Discoveries that shed light on agent response or on patient stratification and development of prediction assays using human specimens or directly in humans as in an

PaCMEN Members

Activity Code PI(s) Grant Title Lead Institution
U01 Vinod Balachandran Defining Neoantigen Immunodominance for Antigen Selection and Biomarker Discovery in Human Pancreatic Cancer Immunotherapy Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
U01 Howard Crawford Interrupting Cellular Crosstalk in the Immunosuppressive Microenvironment of Pancreas Cancer University of Michigan
U01 William Hahn Systematic Interrogation of the Pancreatic Cancer Microenvironment in Patient-Derived Specimens Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
U01 Sunil Hingorani Disrupting the Immune and Drug-Privileged Microenvironment to Improve Immunotherapy Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
U01 Rakesh Jain Reprogramming PDAC Tumor Microenvironment to Improve Immunotherapy Massachusetts General Hospital
U24 Anirban Maitra and Subrata Sen Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Translational Resource Center (PATReC) University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

For more information on PaCMEN, contact Peter Ujhazy, MD, PhD (ujhazyp@mail.nih.gov).