NYUCD & SOM are Awarded a $840,864 Collaborative Grant by the Lustgarten Foundation

New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) and New York University School of Medicine (SOM) researchers have been awarded a four-year $840,864 collaborative grant by the Lustgarten Foundation to investigate a potential link between pancreatic cancer development and endogenous gut microbiota.

The co-investigators, Deepak Saxena, MS, PhD, Assistant Professor, Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology at NYUCD, and George Miller, MD, Assistant Professor; Departments of Surgery and Cell Biology at the SOM, seek to explore the links between the intestinal microbiome, Toll-like receptors (TLRs),  and pancreatic cancer.

“Endogenous gut microbiota have recently been appreciated as important regulators of homeostasis in the healthy individual and contributors toward disease during microbiotic imbalance,” said Saxena.  “The microbiome is also emerging as a contributor to carcinogenesis in extra-pancreatic malignancies such as colon and liver cancer.  However, there has been no direct link between pancreatic cancer development and endogenous gut microbiota,” he noted.

There are tangential data, however, that support such an association. For example, the oral microbiome in patients with pancreatic cancer has been found to substantially differ from control subjects. Preliminary data suggest that the intestinal microbiome may be an important regulator of pancreatic cancer development in at-risk individuals.

The study proposes to:

  • Define the evolving intestinal microbiome in mice during pancreatic cancer development and progression as well as determine whether humans with pancreatic cancer harbor a distinct microbiome compared with age-matched control patients
  • Directly test whether endoluminal bacteria can affect pancreatic oncogenesis and determine whether selectively modulating the microbiome alters the rate of tumor progression
  • Test the hypothesis that luminal pathogens affect pancreatic tumorigenesis specifically via TLR ligation

“Our experiments will provide critical new information on the mechanism of pancreatic carcinogenesis in at-risk hosts and, as such, will provide guidance for pancreatic cancer prevention and possibly treatment of incipient disease,” said Saxena. “Based on our past research, we postulate that specific pathogenic gut bacteria drive pancreatic carcinogenesis in at-risk individuals via TLR activation,” said Miller.

As a part of their grant, Drs. Saxena  and Miller will be  attending and presenting at the annual  Lustgarten Scientific Conference to be held October 20-22, 2013, at the Banbury Center on Long Island NY.

About New York University College of Dentistry--New York University College of Dentistry(NYUCD) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating more than 8 percent of all dentists. NYUCD has a significant global reach and provides a level of national and international diversity among its students that is unmatched by any other dental school.

About the NYU School of Medicine --NYU School of Medicine (SOM) is one of the nation’s preeminent academic institutions dedicated to achieving world class medical educational excellence.  For 171 years, NYU School of Medicine has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history and enrich the lives of countless people. An integral part of NYU Langone Medical Center, the School of Medicine at its core is committed to improving the human condition through medical education, scientific research and direct patient care.  The School also maintains academic affiliations with area hospitals, including Bellevue Hospital Center, one of the nation’s finest municipal hospitals where its students, residents and faculty provide the clinical and emergency care to New York City’s diverse population, which enhances the scope and quality of their medical education and training.  Additional information about the NYU School of Medicine is available at http://school.med.nyu.edu/.

About The Lustgarten Foundation
The Lustgarten Foundation is America’s largest private foundation dedicated to funding pancreatic cancer research. Based in Bethpage, New York, the Foundation supports research to find a cure for pancreatic cancer, facilitates dialogue within the medical and scientific community, and educates the public about the disease through awareness campaigns and fundraising events. The Foundation has provided millions of research dollars and assembled the best scientific minds with the hope that one day, a cure can be found. For more information visit www.lustgarten.org.