Pancreatic cancer is notoriously unresponsive to chemotherapy or immunotherapy. Early in his cancer research career, Jashodeep Datta, M.D., is focused on finding out why. In 2021, Dr. Datta, a hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgical oncologist at Sylvester, landed two highly competitive grants for his research.
He received the prestigious Joel J. Roslyn Faculty Research Award from the Association for Academic Surgery (AAS) — a one-year $50,000 grant. Later in the year, Dr. Datta received a $150,000 grant from the Elsa Pardee Foundation to advance his research suggesting that in Ras-p53 cooperative pancreatic cancer, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are key in controlling inhibitory tumor-stromal-immune crosstalk, and MDSC-derived TNFa is a master regulator of immune exclusion and T cell dysfunction.
Dr. Datta and his team are now delving into the specific mechanisms that govern the cellular fate of MDSC-derived TNFa and how targeting these mechanisms might disrupt their inhibitory effects on T cell function and suppressive tumor-stromal-immune crosstalk in the pancreatic tumor microenvironment.
“We believe that unraveling and targeting these tolerogenic mechanisms in MDSCs is of paramount importance, since they can overcome immune exclusion, unleash anti-tumor immunity, overcome therapeutic resistance, and revolutionize treatment for pancreatic cancer patients,” Dr. Datta said.