TAMPA, Fla. – Pancreatic cancer is one of the nation’s deadliest cancers. It has the lowest five-year survival rate of any cancer at nine percent. Moffitt Cancer Center, with help from a research grant from Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), is working to develop new prevention and treatment options for these patients.

Karen M. Mann, Ph.D., assistant member of the Molecular Oncology Department, was awarded $200,000 to study pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a highly metastatic disease with poor patient outcomes. Pancreatic cancer is a challenging cancer to treat. There are no biomarkers to help detect the disease early, nor are there drug targets for metastatic disease that can help pinpoint therapy.

The Moffitt study will focus on RNA, a nucleic acid found in all living cells. Research suggests RNA splicing, a process that edits the RNA to alter the message that will be made into protein, may play a role in disease development. 

“We will be investigating RNA splicing events controlled by a protein we have identified to be changed in pancreatic cancer to determine what role splicing plays in driving pancreatic cancer metastasis. The goal of our efforts is to identify the important splicing events and their biological consequence on protein function that can be pursued for use as biomarkers to detect metastases and potentially as new drug targets that can lead to better disease treatment,” said Mann.

This year, PanCAN awarded nine grants to 12 researchers at 11 institutions in the U.S., Canada and France, totaling more than $4.2 million. Recipients were selected through a competitive peer-review process.

“Our grants program is critical to meeting our urgent mission to improve pancreatic cancer patient outcomes,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, PanCAN’s president and CEO.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,700 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on FacebookTwitter and YouTube