In a study led by Professor Geoffrey Wahl and Vanderbilt Assistant Professor Kathy DelGiorno, first author Zhibo Ma and colleagues found that cells in the pancreas form new cell types to mitigate injury, but then become susceptible to cancerous mutations. Their findings establish a better understanding of the pancreas’ healing mechanisms and offer insights into what happens when the process goes awry. Targeting these processes may lead to new treatments for patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Improving drug options for colorectal cancer patients
A major issue in cancer medicine is matching patients with effective treatments. Although patients with colorectal cancer were among the first to receive targeted therapies, many were ineligible, as their cancer-promoting mutations were believed to cause resistance to certain drugs. Assistant Professor Edward Stites and first author Thomas McFall paired computational models and experimental data and discovered that up to 12,000 additional colon cancer patients could benefit from an existing class of targeted therapies. They hope that clinical trials will highlight the magnitude of these findings and motivate more research on these mutations.
- The Salk Institute and Lustgarten Foundation form strategic pancreatic cancer research partnershipSupported by a $5 million grant, the partnership aims to identify and validate potential targets for new pancreatic cancer drugs. Four participating labs, led by Salk Professors Reuben Shaw, Ronald Evans, Tony Hunter and Assistant Professor Dannielle Engle, will bring their individual areas of complementary expertise to bear on the collaborative goal.
- The weed that changed the worldHow Arabidopsis thaliana became one of the most important tools in science—and how the information the small weed has revealed over decades of research now enables the development of Salk Ideal PlantsTM, a new generation of food crops that are better equipped to both thrive in a changing climate and help mitigate it.
- Kenta Asahina – Flying into the future of technology and innovationOriginally from Japan, Associate Professor Kenta Asahina grew up exploring nearby farmlands with his two brothers in search of insects and plants. Their dad enjoyed taking them to the mountains and national parks. These experiences inspired his interest in the natural world, and Asahina now studies how genetics impact fruit fly behavior.
- Courtney Glavis-Bloom — Shining the spotlight on aging to find a cure for Alzheimer’s diseaseSenior Staff Scientist Courtney Glavis-Bloom’s work is driven by her experience caring for her grandparents, who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when she was in high school. She saw firsthand how dementia robs individuals of their connections to the world—now she studies the brain areas affected in aging in the hope of finding a cure.
- Helen McRae — Leveraging the body’s own immune response for more effective cancer therapiesHelen McRae was a graduate student when her cousin was diagnosed with lung cancer and received immunotherapy—an approach that empowers a patient’s own immune system to destroy tumors. McRae saw the promise of this newer treatment, but also how much more research is needed to help it work for more people.