The Wayne Fusaro Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund is an outstanding organization which holds steadfast to its mission of eradicating pancreatic cancer. The University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition is proud to partner with the WFPCRF to conquer pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
Cutting edge research aimed at directly addressing patients’ needs is central to the University’s Pancreas & Biliary Center. For the last dozen years, physicians and scientists have built a unified team designed to understand human pancreatic and biliary diseases more completely. Laboratory research is conducted daily, with improved clinical practice and service to patients as the ultimate research goals. Primary research advances include:
- Research concerning new methods for early detection of pancreatobiliary malignancies is being piloted by Dr. Asif Khalid. His lab’s work may prove to be the most sensitive and specific diagnostic tool for the early and accurate diagnosis of malignant and premalignant masses.
- Dr. David Whitcomb’s lab discovered the genetic basis for hereditary pancreatitis and the genetic causes of “idiopathic” recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis. These findings are among the most promising of all pancreatic research done over the past 100 years. Dr. Whitcomb’s current research examines the gene area on chromosome 4, which may be the locus of the first identified pancreatic cancer gene.
- Major research efforts are also focused on the repaid and accurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancers and on new and compelling treatments. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is one of the busiest pancreatic cancer surgery centers in the world, and considerable therapeutic research is being done to help patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer.
Through the WFPCRF’s terrific fundraising events — including the summer golf outing and autumn walk/run — the Foundation’s support has made a huge impact on the quality of research being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. We thank you for this kind and generous support. WFPCRF grants have been key components to the following laboratory advancements:
- A major piece of pancreatic cancer laboratory equipment called a Laminer Flow Hood. This equipment is used for growing cancer cells for research use. These research studies are designed to identify genes that slow tumor growth (i.e., tumor suppressor genes).
- An important type of pancreatic cancer laboratory equipment called a Taqman Chromo4 Continuous Fluoresence Detector. This machine rapidly identifies DNA mutations in patient blood samples and measures the levels of gene expression in tissue samples. The lab uses this machinery to better and more completely process genetic information related to cancer, and the incorporation of this machinery into our lab has been a huge time saver. We can process more information faster and more reliably thanks to the generosity of WFPCRF volunteers!
- Research support of pathology analysis costs to study methods of early detection of pancreatic cancer. This research is primarily being done by the following physician scientists: Asif Khalid, MD, David C. Whitcomb, MD PhD, Adam Slivka, MD PhD, and Kevin McGrath, MD. These researchers take sample materials from pancreatic cysts where cancer is suspected through an endocscopic ultrasound (EUS) procedure. Molecular analysis of these samples is done, and the researchers then work to determine if cancer is present. This is a critical finding, since this is a pre-surgery finding and may protect the patient from unnecessary surgery procedures
- Research support to study pancreas genetics. Dr. Whitcomb’s lab believes that they have found an inherited pancreatic cancer gene, and they are currently working to prove their work and determine if all findings are correct.
For more information about the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and the University’s pancreas programs, please visit the UPMC website at www.upmc.com or our Division’s academic website at www.dom.pitt.edu
Although Wayne Fusaro’s life was cut short by pancreatic cancer, the legacy of his energy and character lives on through his family and the WFPCRF. The foundation does not stop with the Fusaro’s, however, and is instead helping all future generations to bypass the suffering caused by pancreatic cancer. Please join with the WFPCRF volunteers and our team at the University of Pittsburgh to support the WFPCRF and pancreatic cancer research.