Florida Academic Cancer Center Alliance renews Florida Pancreas Collaborative funding

Jose Trevino, M.D.

The Florida Academic Cancer Center Alliance has renewed funding for the Florida Pancreas Collaborative, an initiative of the University of Florida Health Cancer Center, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami. Each participating institution will receive $50,000 toward research in the prevention and early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Jose Trevino, M.D., an assistant professor in the division of general surgery in the UF College of Medicine, is a co-principal investigator on the project.

Among the top causes of cancer death in the United States and Florida, pancreatic cancer is among the deadliest, with a five-year relative survival rate of 7 percent. The prognosis is primarily attributed to the lack of early detection strategies. Based on changing demographics, incidence and death rates, pancreatic cancer is projected to surpass breast, prostate and colorectal cancers to become the second leading cause of cancer death by 2020.

Coinciding with the rise in pancreatic cancer incidence and mortality has been an increase in the radiologic detection of cystic lesions of the pancreas, including intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms, or IPMNs. IPMNs are the most common pancreatic cancer precursors and account for 40 percent of the 150,000 asymptomatic pancreatic cysts detected incidentally through CT or MRI each year. The only way to treat these cysts and examine severity is through surgical resection and pathological evaluation. Pancreatic resection, however, is associated with significant risks of morbidity (including long-term diabetes) and mortality.

This prospective, multicenter study will develop a statewide infrastructure to evaluate putative risk factors for and biomarkers of early pancreatic cancer development and progression by longitudinally collecting biospecimens and clinical, epidemiologic and radiologic data from patients newly diagnosed with IPMNs, other diseases of the pancreas (such as other types of pancreatic cysts or pancreatitis) and healthy controls.

As part of this study, the team will evaluate the diagnostic performance of the circulating miRNA signature they have developed using this larger dataset. An overarching goal of this line of research is to integrate novel molecular and radiologic data with standard clinical characteristics and develop a clinical decision model that can rapidly and cost-effectively personalize care for patients with IPMNs — and ultimately reduce the burden of pancreatic malignancy.

This research is supported by the UF Health Cancer Center through the Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program at UF.