CAR T Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer Research Team - Stand Up to Cancer

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SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation CAR T Research Team:
Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell (CAR T) Therapy
for Pancreatic Cancer

Grant Term: April 2017–March 2019

CAR T therapy, a therapeutic strategy to use the patient’s immune cells to fight cancer, has been promising with blood cancers but seems less effective in treating solid cancers. The SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation CAR T Research Team is using state-of-the-art epigenetic approaches and preclinical models to examine CAR T cells and tumor cells in patients who respond to CAR T therapy and in those who do not, with a particular focus on pancreatic cancer patients.


The goal of the SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation CAR T Research Team is to understand why immunotherapy does not cause tumor regression in all patients. They are studying the genetic and epigenetic markers in immune cells called CAR T cells to identify ways to optimize their cancer-killing features.

They have two overarching aims. First, they are isolating CAR T cells from patients with ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and metastatic pancreatic cancer and analyzing them using state-of-the-art cellular assays. Second, they are studying the CAR T cells obtained from patients to understand how to prolong and enhance the cells’ activity. They expect that these studies will shed light on approaches to optimize the combination of CAR T cells with checkpoint therapies that block the function of CTLA-4 and PD-1, proteins on cell surfaces that inhibit normal immune response.

This team is part of the Pancreatic Cancer Collective portfolio of research.


The top scientists and researchers on the SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation CAR T Research Team come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation CAR T Research Team.

Team Members

Carl H. June, MD
University of Pennsylvania
Team Leader

Shelley L. Berger, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

E. John Wherry, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Simon Lacey, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Principal Investigator

Jos Melenhorst, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Principal Investigator

Regina M. Young, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
Project Manager

“We will investigate CAR T cell therapy for pancreatic cancer in combination with analysis of the epigenetics of patients who respond to the treatment as well as those who fail to respond, with the goal of finding ways to increase the response rate and explore new therapies against this terrible disease.”

Carl H. June, MD
University of Pennsylvania


Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click on the link to see summaries of research results so far for the SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation CAR T Research Team.



This team started its work in the spring of 2017. Links to publications will be posted when they are available.


Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available; in fact, the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials aren’t completed because not enough people take part.

At, you’ll find information and answers to common questions about clinical trials. Learn more and talk to your doctor to see if a clinical trial may be the best choice for you.

You can also connect with EmergingMed, a free and confidential clinical trial matching service that provides access to a vast database to help you identify the clinical trials that might be right for you or your loved one.



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