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Jefferson Surgical Solutions

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The Jefferson Pancreas, Biliary and Related Cancer Center performs more pancreas surgeries than any other center in the tristate region. Each year, the center’s team treats more than 200 patients who have cancerous, neoplastic or pre-cancerous lesions.

It’s a level of care and volume of patients that presents a powerful opportunity: using molecular profiling to gather extensive data about pancreatic tumors. Molecular profiling can be a valuable tool in treating pancreatic cancer – now the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths with a five-year overall survival rate of just 11%.

“With molecular profiling, we’re looking for patterns and signatures within the underlying genetic structure of an individual tumor,” says Aditi Jain, PhD, Research Instructor in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Jain is the recipient of the 2021 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) Career Development Award, a two-year, $200,000 grant for “Targeting BARD1 in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.”

Together with Dr. Jain, Avinoam Nevler, MD, Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator at the Pancreatic Cancer Research Lab in the Department of Surgery, and research fellow, Saed Khalilieh, MD, are spearheading Jefferson’s Molecular Profiling of Pancreatic Cancer, a program known as JMP PaC, or “jump pack.”

Through JMP PaC, the team will conduct testing to identify biomarkers in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) tumors. In addition to helping inform possible tumor-specific treatments, these biomarkers potentially could predict both disease recurrence and signatures of drug response.

“At an individual level, molecular profiling can help to determine targeted treatments for patients. This has already been established in the ‘Know Your Tumor’ PanCAN initiative,” Dr. Nevler explains. “At a global level, we can aggregate these data across centers to create large, comprehensive clinical and molecular datasets. Cancer researchers can use these large repositories both to generate and test new hypotheses for many years to come.”

Insurance currently covers molecular profiling only for patients with advanced-stage pancreatic disease. A $50,000 gift from a grateful patient is laying the groundwork to profile all patients. Now the Department of Surgery needs an additional $150,000 to cover patient testing and specimen collection, processing and storage that insurance won’t fund. The initial contributions, along with sustaining gifts, will support downstream research projects that leverage the information gathered.

For more information, please contact Kelly M. Austin at kelly.austin@jefferson.edu or 215-955-6383.

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