Friday, September 25, 2009

Pictures of POWCOR's 1st Roadtrip!

Hello All!

As you all know, our 5k walk (and if you want to run, you can!) is coming up on October 31st. Since this is our 1st annual walk, we are working to make it as successful as possible. We began looking for other pancreatic cancer 5k walks, and we found one in Long Island, New York last weekend (9/20/09)! We figured it would be a great if we went to walk for the cure, as well as find great ways to make our 5k a success as well. It ended up being a GREAT experience, and we brought our "entourage" to show the support! From the great DJ to the positive vibes, and the TONS of people walking, we've become more motivated than ever. Please take a look at our pictures and SPREAD the word. We're here to stand up to pancreatic cancer so spread the word about POWCOR - A Cause You Can't Ignore! Thanks to everyone for all of your support to this point. This would not be possible without any of you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze


EL SEGUNDO, CA – (September 14, 2009) – The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (, the only national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure is mourning the loss of legendary actor Patrick Swayze. His diagnosis shocked fans around the world in early 2008 and his subsequent battle put a spotlight on pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Swayze is the latest celebrity to succumb to this deadly disease, others before him include: Chuck Daly, Randy Pausch, Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Landon, Donna Reed, Juliet Prowse, Joan Crawford and Jack Benny among others.

“On behalf of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I would like to offer my condolences to his wife, Lisa and the entire Swayze family,” said Julie Fleshman, President and CEO. “For nearly two years he was beating the odds stacked against him and his brave, public battle was a beacon of hope for the pancreatic cancer community. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will continue to advance research, support patients and create hope in his memory.”

Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal cancer in the United States with a five-year survival rate of only 5 percent. This year over 42,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease and over 35,000 will die. Despite the statistics, pancreatic cancer is the most under-funded among leading cancer killers with less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual research budget—a figure far too low given the severity of the disease.

In January 2009, the pancreatic cancer community took an important step forward of increased federal research funding for pancreatic cancer by developing the first-ever substantive pancreatic cancer legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress. The Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act (H.R. 745), which was introduced by U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), proposes comprehensive research initiatives and programs that would facilitate finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. Once enacted and fully funded, this legislation will create a more targeted approach to fighting pancreatic cancer and provide scientists with the resources necessary to make significant advances.

To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, visit

POWCOR 5K Walk- Register Now!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Comprehensive Genetic Blueprints Revealed For Lethal Pancreatic, Brain Cancers

The complete genetic blueprint for lethal pancreatic cancer and brain cancer was deciphered by a team at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The studies, led by the same group who completed maps of the breast cancer and colorectal cancer genomes in 2007, are reported in two articles in the Sept. 5, 2008, issue of Science Express.

Believed to be the most comprehensive result to date for any tumor type, the new map evaluated mutations in virtually all known human protein-encoding genes, comprised of more than 20,000 genes, in 24 pancreatic cancers and 22 brain cancers.

A core set of regulatory gene processes and pathways, about a dozen for each tumor type, were found to be altered in the majority of tumors studied by the researchers. In pancreatic cancer, these 12 pathways, including those linked to DNA damage control, cell maturation, and tumor invasion, were altered in 67 percent to 100 percent of tumors.

"This perspective changes the way we think about solid tumors and their management, because drugs or other agents that target the physiologic effects of these pathways, rather than individual gene components, are likely to be the most useful approach for developing new therapies," says Bert Volgelstein, M.D., co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. In addition to the pathway discoveries, a number of individual mutated genes were identified, including 83 cancer genes in pancreatic cancer and 42 in the most lethal form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), Additionally, 70 genes that were dramatically overexpressed in either cancer encode proteins that are on the surface of cells or secreted, making them potential diagnostic and screening targets.

One gene, isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), was found to be frequently mutated in a subset of GBM brain cancers. The mutations were significantly more common in young GBM patients, and were associated with improved survival. IDH1 mutations were also found in nearly all cases of secondary GBMs (cancers that progress from pre-existing lower grade tumors), raising the possibility that this mutation may be a useful marker for identifying which low grade brain tumors are most likely to develop into the lethal GBMs.

"Patients with IDH1 mutations seem to be different from other patients with GBM, both clinically and biologically," says Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of oncology. "It is conceivable that these patients will ultimately benefit from different treatments, potentially by targeting IDH1."

"The landscape of human cancers is clearly more complex that has been previously appreciated. Fighting it is going to be more of a guerilla war than a conventional one because there are dozens of mutated genes in each tumor," says Kenneth W. Kinzler, Ph.D., co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and professor of oncology. "Individually, these mutations don't seem formidable. But working together, they form an enemy that will require us to develop novel strategies to combat them, and the best long-term strategy may be early detection of tumors, when the number of guerilla warriors is still small and more easily handled."

To make their findings, the investigators integrated several methods of genetic analysis. They used high-density microarrays to identify copy number alterations (amplifications and deletions) and next-generation sequencing technologies to evaluate gene expression. They also develop novel statistical algorithms to integrate these complementary genetic analyses, as well as techniques to separate alterations likely to contribute to cancer initiation and progression from so-called passenger mutations, which accumulate harmlessly during cancer development.

Each project cost more than $4 million, with lead funding for the Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative coming from the Sol Goldman Charitable Trust. The Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Foundation provided lead funding for the brain cancer project. The Ludwig Brain Tumor Initiative represents the first formal collaboration of Ludwig Centers established by the Ludwig Fund in 2006.

This year an estimated 38,000 people will develop pancreatic cancer in the United States, with overall survival rates less than 5 percent. Although fewer patients are diagnosed with brain cancers (approximately 20,000 cases per year in the United States), the results are equally catastrophic. "The main reasons we chose to focus on these cancers is because they are so deadly and have such limited treatment options. What we learn about these tumors may lead to improved diagnostic measures or therapies in the future," says Ralph Hruban, M.D., director of the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins.

The Lustgarten Foundation provided significant funding for the pancreatic cancer research. Additional funding came from the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Joseph C. Monastra Foundation, the family and friends of George Rubis, Viragh Family Foundation, Broad Foundation, Emerald Foundation, and National Institutes of health.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TV Industry Foundation Picks Hopkins Scientists For Cancer Research "Dream Teams"

"Stand Up To Cancer" research funds raised by ABC, CBS, NBC telecast last fall.

A TV industry- and celebrity-driven cancer research project has chosen scientists at Johns Hopkins for two of five multi-institutional "dream teams" financed by "Stand Up To Cancer" grants totaling more than $6 million.

The grants, established by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, are funded with $73.6 million raised during a simultaneous, primetime, television broadcast on ABC, CBS, and NBC television networks last September.

Two awards to Johns Hopkins- led teams were chosen by a 20-member panel of scientists, physicians and patient advocates who reviewed 237 applications.

The Johns Hopkins research will focus on pancreatic cancer and epigenetics, a relatively new field of research directed at understanding and manipulating gene alterations that can shut down natural cancer protection.

Stephen Baylin, M.D., deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer at Johns Hopkins, will co-lead with Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of the University of Southern California/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center a $9.12 million, three-year grant to study epigenetic changes that modify the way a cell packages its DNA sequence for regulating gene function. Abnormal DNA packaging silences genes that confer cancer protection in people with lung, breast and colon cancers. The Johns Hopkins-USC-led Dream Team will conduct legal trials and laboratory investigations to test potential treatments to reverse this silencing of genes.

"We will be looking for signatures in the genomes of tumor cells from patients with leukemia, lung, breast and colon cancer that can predict whether cancers in certain patients are susceptible to these therapies," says Baylin, who is the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Professor in Cancer Research. "Tracking the signatures can also help monitor patients' response to the drug."

Johns Hopkins scientists will receive approximately $3 million for its portion of the epigenetics grant. Other institutions in the epigenetics dream team are the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute at the University of New Mexico. Johns Hopkins team members are: Nita Ahuja, M.D., Nilofer Azad, M.D., Malcolm Brock, M.D., Robert Casero, Jr., Ph.D., Leslie Cope, Ph.D., Edward Gabrielson, M.D., James Herman, M.D., Rosalyn Juergens, M.D., William Matsui, M.D., Charles Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., Vared Stearns, M.D., Jeff Wang, Ph.D., and Cynthia Zahnow, Ph.D.

For pancreatic cancer research, scientists at Johns Hopkins will be awarded $3.75 million in Stand Up to Cancer grants, plus clinical trial funding from the $18 million grant led by Craig Thompson, M.D., director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and Daniel Von Hoff. M.D., physician-in-chief and director of the Clinical Translational Research Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Chief Scientific Officer at Scottsdale Healthcare.

Johns Hopkins investigators will use their funds to test and develop drugs that target faulty enzymes that process glutamine and glucose and fatty acids in some pancreatic cancers. "There are some drugs already approved for diabetic management that have evidence of antitumor effects," says Chi Dang, M.D., Ph.D., vice dean for research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and advisor for the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins. "These drugs could be combined with other therapies currently being tested for pancreatic cancer."

In addition to Dang, the pancreatic cancer research team includes Manuel Hidalgo, M.D., Ph.D., Ralph Hruban, M.D., Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., Daniel Laheru, M.D., Anirban Maitra, M.D., Martin Pomper, M.D., Ph.D., and Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., from the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins, and David L. Vander Jagt, Ph.D. of the University of New Mexico.

Velculescu and Kinzler at Johns Hopkins will scan patients' genomes for genes that could benefit from glutamine and glucose-blocking drugs. Hidalgo and Maitra plan to track drug response. "We also will be looking for experimental drugs, not currently FDA-approved, which could have the same blocking effect on glucose and glutamine metabolism," says Dang, professor of medicine, cell biology, oncology and pathology.

On the web:
videos of Baylin and Dang available at:
SU2C press kit: