Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS - Stand Up to Cancer

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Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS

Grant Term: November 2018–December 2019

Mutations in the KRAS oncogene drive the vast majority of pancreatic cancers. This research team is using knowledge of the immune system to isolate T cells that can target the cancer-promoting gene. This will allow the development of precision therapies involving highly selective white blood cells that can be given to pancreatic cancer patients to target and potentially destroy tumors.


The goal of the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS is to develop a cellular therapy that exploits novel cell engineering to manufacture highly selective anticancer T cells on an individual patient basis. The approach is similar to T cell therapies recently approved by the FDA that target leukemia and lymphoma, except the team is targeting mutant KRAS in pancreatic cancer.

The team has been able to isolate T cells specific for mutant KRAS and has successfully grown these cells from multiple donors. In this study the researchers are isolating more KRAS T cells obtained from three groups of people: normal individuals, patients with mutant KRAS tumors, and pancreatic cancer patients who are being treated with vaccines against mutant KRAS. Their ultimate goal is to test in the clinic the effectiveness of individualized infusions of KRAS T cells against pancreatic cancer in patients.

This team is part of the Pancreatic Cancer Collective, an initiative of the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and Stand Up To Cancer.


The top scientists and researchers on the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS.

Team Members

Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil,
University of Pennsylvania
Team Leader

Beatriz Carreno, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD
Johns Hopkins University

Mark O’Hara, MD
University of Pennsylvania

Colleen Redlinger
University of Pennsylvania
Project Manager

“What we’re attempting to do is to develop T cells or lymphocytes that can recognize a specific mutation that most pancreatic patients have, and that’s mutated KRAS. We’re aiming at KRAS because over 90 percent of pancreatic patients express mutated KRAS and it’s an important target . . . The immune system is very smart. The T cell just goes after that protein and kills the whole cancer.”

Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD
Johns Hopkins University


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 below to see summaries of the research results so far for the Pancreatic Cancer Collective Research Team: Immunotherapy Targeting Mutant KRAS.



This team started its work in November 2018; links to publications will be posted when they are available.


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