Pamela Itkin-Ansari, PhD

Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, University Of California, San Diego

My lab recently found that a single gene reprograms pancreatic cancer cells back to their original cell type, halting tumor growth in animals. There is precedent for a cell reprogramming strategy in cancer treatment; this approach changed a once lethal leukemia, acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), into a curable disease. To exploit the previously unrecognized plasticity of pancreatic cancer cells, we developed a drug screening platform. From a screen of 4300 known drugs we have identified several compounds that appear to regulate the pathway of interest.  With help from the Sky Foundation we propose to evaluate the potential ‘hits’ in mechanistic studies in cells and in an animal model of pancreatic cancer. Our ultimate goal is to identify a drug, or drug combination, that can be translated to the clinic as a novel reprogramming therapy for pancreatic cancer.