Research Creates a More Hopeful Future for Patients
Our groundbreaking new research program—the Clinical Accelerator Initiative—is ensuring the most pioneering research advancements in early detection and new treatments are possible.
The Clinical Accelerator Initiative focuses on:
• Launching new clinical studies in a way that shortens the time required to move from concept to study launch;
• Developing smarter clinical trials generating as much data as possible and improving patient outcomes.
We have established a Translational Advisory Group (TAG) consisting of renowned experts to implement the Clinical Accelerator Initiative. The TAG is identifying the most innovative concepts and potential therapeutic approaches for all stages of pancreatic cancer and accelerating the testing of these new concepts. Led by our Chief Medical Advisor, Elizabeth Jaffee, MD, of Johns Hopkins, the TAG will guide the Clinical Accelerator Initiative by identifying, reviewing and developing the best translational projects to impact patient care in the clinic.
“Based on the success of the Lustgarten Foundation’s past research efforts, there are now more opportunities than ever to test new potential therapies in the clinic,” said Dr. Jaffee. “The research that will be conducted through the Clinical Accelerator Initiative will offer patients and their families newfound hope as we pursue life-changing discoveries .”
The TAG is building a network of sites to execute the proposed research in small clinical trials of 10-20 patients each. These science-driven studies could dramatically inform research, enabling investigators to quickly determine if patients are responding to specific treatment approaches and why—information that will help us to continually improve our approach in clinical trials and ultimately, clinical care.
In early 2021, the Foundation approved $5.1 million to fund three new clinical studies under the Clinical Accelerator Initiative. Two studies at Johns Hopkins will build on work coming from Dr. Jaffee’s team exploring the use of vaccines in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Both newly-funded studies will look at novel combinations of vaccines and drugs targeting the immune system to determine if they can overcome pancreatic tumors’ resistance to immune therapies. The two studies build on clinical data generated in ongoing clinical trials at Johns Hopkins and will target specific immune barriers identified as part of those studies. One study will enroll metastatic patients while the other will target patients who are eligible for surgery.
The third study at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will look to “re-awaken” T cells (an immune system cell) that penetrate the pancreatic tumors but are rendered “exhausted” and ineffective by signals from the tumor. The clinical study will test a novel combination of drugs designed to simultaneously activate the T cells and block the inhibitory signals from the tumor.
We are honored to name this initiative in honor of Dr. Robert F. Vizza, who led the Lustgarten Foundation as our first President and CEO and, later, as Chairman of the Board of Directors until his retirement in 2020. During his 22-year tenure, Dr. Vizza pushed relentlessly to move the science from the laboratory into the clinic, where it could have the most impact on patients. Adding his name to this program is a meaningful tribute recognizing the significant advancements made possible by his steadfast and strategic leadership.