The Lustgarten Foundation is funding a clinical trial/research study in connection with one of its Distinguished Scholars, Dr. Bert Vogelstein, who is the co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins, Clayton Professor of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
The clinical trial/research study, being led by oncologists Dung Le and Luis Diaz at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, will test the effectiveness of Merck's Pembrolizumab* immunotherapy drug in patients whose tumors have a unique mutation. This mutation can only be identified through testing of tumor tissue for a genetic signature called "MSI" (microsatellite instability), found in approximately two percent of pancreatic cancer patients. A recent research study led at Johns Hopkins demonstrated that a small group among 48 patients with a variety of advanced cancers and whose tumors have this unique genetic signature responded to Pembrolizumab, even when other forms of therapy were not effective. (*Note: Pembrolizumab is not yet FDA approved for the treatment of MSI pancreatic cancers.)
Pancreatic cancer patients who are interested should speak with their physicians about having their tumors tested for MSI by ProPath. The Lustgarten Foundation has agreed to pay for the MSI testing. Those patients who test positive and whose disease is resistant to other therapies may be eligible for this clinical trial/research study at Johns Hopkins using Pembrolizumab. Patients will receive tumor testing, treatment and clinical care free of charge (however, patients may incur other costs). The trial may be limited, so patients who test positive for the MSI mutation will be evaluated on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information about MSI testing and this clinical trial/research study with Pembrolizumab, please contact The Lustgarten Foundation at 1-866-789-1000.