$1.5 Million Grant in Scientific Partnership with Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation Will Fund Innovative Immunotherapy Cancer Study at Wilmot Cancer Institute

May 30, 2020

CHICAGO, IL – Gateway for Cancer ResearchSM (Gateway), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding transformational early-phase cancer research, in partnership with Conquer Cancer®, the ASCO Foundation, is pleased to announce the recipient of the inaugural Discovery Grant. This $1.5 million grant was awarded to David C. Linehan, MD from Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center for his pancreatic cancer study examining the use of a novel immunotherapy treatment protocol.

Dr. Linehan’s clinical trial is entitled “A Phase 1b/2 Trial of Immunotherapy with Nivolumab and Pepinemab Combined with First Line Folfirinox for Treating Patients with Unresectable Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma” and will test the use of a dual immunotherapy approach in combination with standard chemotherapy to treat inoperable and locally advanced pancreatic ductal cancer (PDAC). The dual immunotherapy drugs, nivolumab and pepinemab, will activate the immune system to fight against the pancreatic tumors thereby enhancing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy folfirinox in targeting and eradicating the tumor cells.

PDAC is one of the most aggressive cancers and the 5-year survival rate is 9%. Currently, PDAC is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and over the last decade the incidence has steadily increased with projections showing it becoming the second leading cause of cancer mortality by 2030. The current treatment strategy for PDAC patients is insufficient due to poor response rates and a negative impact on quality of life. Dr. Linehan’s study hopes to change the current state through his clinical trial, with the goal to ultimately implement a new, more effective treatment approach for patients diagnosed with PDAC.

“Congratulations to Dr. Linehan for being awarded the inaugural Discovery Grant. I am excited to see the outcomes of his innovative immunotherapy trial,” said Michael Burton, President and CEO of Gateway. “Gateway understands the urgent need to accelerate the pace of cancer research, especially for those with advanced pancreatic ductal cancer. By investing in clinical research exploring novel approaches such as Dr. Linehan’s, we are able to support courageous patients facing a cancer diagnosis with more effective treatment options and improved quality of life.”

“Gateway’s longstanding commitment to funding patient-centered, groundbreaking research has been essential to bringing this trial to fruition. With substantial funds from the Discovery Grant, our team will be able to bring this promising study to the bedside for patients who need new treatment options the most,” said Dr. Linehan. “I am grateful to have been selected by Gateway for this prestigious grant award and look forward to activating the trial for the benefit of those facing a difficult pancreatic cancer diagnosis.”

The Gateway Discovery Grant was established in 2019 through a scientific partnership between Gateway for Cancer Research and Conquer Cancerwith the goal to identify compelling areas of inquiry in the field of cancer research and to fund the talented clinician-scientists best positioned to pursue these studies. This biennial $1.5 million grant program represents a significant new source of funding for transformational clinician-scientists poised to advance breakthroughs in cancer research.

To learn more about the Gateway Discovery Grant Program, please visit ASCO.org/Gateway

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