$5.75M grant to help researchers study role of obesity in development of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer cells dividing
Representation of a pancreatic cancer cell dividing.

A team of researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and peer institutions has been awarded a $5.75 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the correlation between obesity, inflammation and pancreatic cancer. The scientists hope their findings may help people avoid getting this cancer.

"We know that the biological mechanisms of obesity, such as inflammation, can lead to the development of pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Guido Eibl, professor-in-residence in the department of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher. "This study will help us better understand not only how those mechanisms influence the formation of pancreatic tumors but also how we can develop preventions that help people who are at a higher risk for this cancer."

The five-year study will be structured into three projects, with participating researchers from Cedars–Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the University of California, San Diego, joining the team at UCLA. Each project's leader is highly experienced in the study of pancreatic cancer.

The first project, overseen by Eibl, will examine the inflammation of body fat and how this chronic condition can lead to pancreatic cancer. The second, led by Jonsson Cancer Center researcher Dr. Enrique Rozengurt, who holds the Hirschberg Memorial Chair in Pancreatic Cancer Research at UCLA, will focus on the use of medications, and their mechanisms, in helping to prevent pancreatic cancer from developing in high-risk people.

The third project, led by Dr. Stephen Pandol of Cedars–Sinai, will study the pancreatic cancer microenvironment, which includes cancer tissues and surrounding tissues that support the cancer's growth, to understand how the environment is changed as a result of obesity and inflammation.

The UCLA pancreatic cancer study is funded by the National Cancer Institute's P01 grant. These grants support research programs that include multiple projects and investigators working together toward a common goal.

The UCLA research team also includes Dr. David Dawson, Dr. Vay Liang Go, Dr. Oscar Joe Hines and Gang Li.

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