Targeting tumor cells alone has not substantially improved outcomes for pancreatic cancer. That’s why Masonic Scholar and biomedical engineering faculty member, Paolo Provenzano, Ph.D., is exploring the role of the tumor microenvironment in pancreatic cancer.
Provenzano focuses on how the environment surrounding cancerous cells—known as the stroma—influences the spread of cancer and limits the delivery of chemotherapy. His end goal is to develop new therapeutic strategies that target and re-engineer the tumor microenvironment in pancreatic and other cancers.
“Developing new strategies to combat cancer is a rewarding path, but one that is difficult. Without the strong support of Minnesota Masonic Charities and others, we would not have been able to move forward with new approaches that are critically needed to combat this disease.”
Recently, Provenzano’s team discovered that certain enzymes break down physical barriers in pancreatic tumors that would normally limit the delivery of therapies. Their research has gained significant momentum and this approach is now being tested in a Phase 3 clinical trial. Provenzano is currently expanding clinical studies and examining additional strategies to re-engineer solid tumors using novel experimental agents and repurposed FDA-approved drugs.