Howard Crawford, PhD
University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Crawford holds joint appointments in the Department Molecular and Integrative Physiology and the Department of Internal Medicine, division of gastroenterology. He directs the Pancreas Research Program and the Genetically Engineered Mouse Models of the Pancreatic Cancer Core in the Translational Oncology Program and the Cancer Center.
His research aims to understanding molecular pathways in pancreatic adenocarcinoma and pancreatitis or the molecular connection between chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. This research may lead to treatments that could potentially prevent pancreatic cancer.
RESEARCH FUNDED BY SKY FOUNDATION, INC.
PROJECT TITLE: IMMUNE RESPONSES IN PATIENTS WITH CHRONIC PANCREATITIS AND PANCREATIC CANCER
Howard Crawford, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, and Internal Medicine. Director, Pancreas Research Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Focusing on the initiation of pancreatic cancer, including how some risk factors, such as chronic pancreatitis, promote tumor formation
With this knowledge and support from Sky Foundation, Dr. Crawford’s laboratory is studying the immune responses in patients with chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, in the hopes of identifying an immune cell signature capable of distinguishing these patients from one another with a simple blood draw
Blood and pancreatic cancer biology samples are being collected from patients and analyzing them using two techniques
Technique 1: CyTOF, allows researchers to look at 30 different cell surface markers simultaneously, characterizing the complete immune cell signature in the circulation
Technique 2: Single Cell Sequencing, reveals what each of the different cell types in the tumor and in the circulation are expressing, allowing investigators to determine how immune and tumor cells are communicating with each other
Both techniques have produced two very exciting outcomes
First, pancreatic cancer patients have a unique immune cell signature compared to normal and pancreatitis patients
Blood sample testing from at risk patients is being conducted longitudinally to determine if there are emerging signatures in asymptomatic patients that suggest cancer has formed
Second, single cell sequencing has suggested brand new immune suppressing crosstalk pathways to target, with the goal of reawakening the immune system to attack the tumor