The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

What's New 2008

National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry Website
December, 2008

Although the NFPTR registry is not new (we’ve been in existence since Dr. Hruban founded the registry in 1994), the NTPTR website is now totally redesigned! Check it out for information on the purpose of our research, insights gained, and new research studies you may be eligible to participate in!

If you haven’t heard about us before, the NFPTR is a research study aimed at identifying the causes of pancreatic cancer. We hope that our research will enable the early detection of pancreas cancer and lead to improved treatment of this disease, ultimately saving lives. Over 3000 families are currently part of our registry. While many families have enrolled, each family that joins teaches us more about this disease, such that the addition of more families to our study is critical to continue our progress. You can join the NFPTR if you or a family member has been diagnosed with a pancreatic tumor. Participation involves the completion of a questionnaire about your health history and that of your family members, and potentially the optional donation of a research DNA sample.

Visit our new NTPTR website to:

You can also contact the study coordinator directly at 410-955-3502 or . Check out our website to learn more about familial pancreas cancer.

Combining Pancreatic Cancer Surgery with Vaccine
October, 2008

Dr. Martin Makary has written a new blog post on the pancreas, called Where is the Pancreas?, which discusses some important basic information about the pancreas. Dr, Makary works with the Johns Hopkins Pancreas and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery departments.

Read more about the pancreas and its location.


Combining Pancreatic Cancer Surgery with Vaccine
September, 2008

The Department of Surgical and Medical Oncology announces the next clinical trial that will test the safety and immune activity of an allogeneic GM-CSF-secreting pancreatic cancer vaccine for patients who are eligible for pancreatic cancer surgery. This trial will incorporate the pancreatic cancer vaccine with surgical resection as part of combinatorial therapy for pancreatic cancer. This pancreatic cancer vaccine was developed by the Johns Hopkins pancreatic cancer vaccine team in the Department of Medical Oncology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital; and more than 200 patients with different stages of pancreatic cancer have received this vaccine through clinical trials. Prior studies have demonstrated that this vaccine is safe and and induces immune responses to pancreatic cancer. In this new study the vaccine treatment will be given two weeks prior to surgery and then multiple times after surgery along with chemotherapy and radiation after surgery. Patients with resectable pancreatic cancer who qualify for this clinical trial will be able to receive their first vaccine as early as two weeks prior to the surgery.

More information on this clinical trial can be found through the office of Barish H. Edil, M.D. at (410)502-8200.

Genetic Blueprint for Pancreatic Cancer
September, 2008

In an exciting advance, the complete genetic blueprint for pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal of all of the cancers, was decoded by a team at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins. The study, led by Drs. Vogelstein, Kinzler and Velculescu, is reported in the Sept. 5, 2008, issue of Science Express.

The team sequenced more than 20,000 genes in a series of 24 well-characterized pancreatic cancers and discovered over 1,500 DNA mutations in these cancers. An average of 63 mutations was found in each cancer, supporting the growing body of evidence that cancer is fundamentally a disease caused by alterations in the DNA. The complex picture presented by these mutations was simplified by the finding that many of them acted in concert through a set of well-defined signaling pathways and processes. The scientists identified 12 core signaling pathways and processes that were each altered in more than two-thirds of the cancers. These 12 core pathways provide the basis for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in pancreatic cancer.

As a part of the study the team also discovered over 500 genes that were made at abnormally high levels in the 24 cancers. Fifty-four of these over expressed genes were predicted to be secreted or made on the surface of the cancer cells, suggesting that these genes may be useful therapeutic targets or may form the basis for new tests for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

The landmark study characterizes the fundamental genetic components of pancreatic cancer and will guide research on this disease for the next decade. The improved understanding realized from these studies, and their follow-up work will hopefully lead to dramatic improvements in the prevention, detection, or treatment of pancreatic cancer.

The project is also a great example of the power of private giving. The major funding The Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project came from the Sol and Lillian Goldman Charitable Trusts. Significant funding also came from The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Additional funding came from the Virginia and D. K. Ludwig Fund, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Joseph C. Monastra Foundation, the family and friends of George Rubis, Viragh Family Foundation, Broad Foundation, Emerald Foundation, and National Institutes of Health.


New FTC campaign launched

The Federal Trade Commission launched a campaign today to increase consumer awareness about cancer treatment hoaxes. The campaign includes a Web site, banner ads, a two-minute video, educational materials, and a consumer alert.

The website is

Also note that the Johns Hopkins Cancer Center's Web site: has information under its Latest News column about two email hoaxes related to Johns Hopkins.

Pancreatic Cancer Blog
August, 2008

We have created a new blog on pancreatic cancer!

Pancreatic Cancer BlogWe created this blog to facilitate communication with patients, their families and friends as they face health issues related to the pancreas. Our plan is to have our experts regularly post blogs on "hot issues." We hope that you find these blogs interesting and educational, and we encourage you to contribute your thoughts, experiences and expertise to our on-line blog. The blog is something new for us, so we appreciate your patience as we iron out any issues that may appear.


This e-mail is NOT from Johns Hopkins
August 11, 2008

A hoax e-mail on cancer has been circulating on the internet. Because this e-mail uses the Johns Hopkins name, we thought we would post a What's New to inform the users of our web page. The e-mail in question is pasted at the end of this Whats New. To learn more visit: and The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center News.

The hoax email in question:

Cancer Update from John Hopkins

  1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.
  2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's life time
  3. When the person\'s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.
  4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.
  5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.
  6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinaltract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.
  7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.
  8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.
  9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.
  10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.
  11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.
  12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.
  13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body\'s killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.
  14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.
  15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positivespirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to havea loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.
  16. Cancer cells cannot thrive inan oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

Cancer Cells Feed On:

  1. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.
  2. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinaltract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soya milk cancer cells are being starved.
  3. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, e specially to people with cancer.
  4. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts)and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).
  5. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tapwater. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.



  1. No plastic containers in micro.
  2. No water bottles in freezer.
  3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well.

Dioxin chemicals causes cancer, especially breast cancer.

Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.

Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers.

This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends using glass, such as CorningWare, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else.

Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.

Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

This is an article that should be sent to anyone important in your life.


Dr. Randy Pausch dies
July 25, 2008

Dr. Randy Pausch

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Dr. Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon's Last Lecture professor, at age 47. He died at his home in southern Virginia.

Here are our condolences to his family and supporters and his famous speech, The Last Lecture.

Hopkins Scientists Create a Fish Model of Pancreatic Cancer
June 24, 2008

One of the major road blocks to the study of pancreatic cancer has been the absence of a good animal model of this disease. Scientists at Johns Hopkins previously collaborated with Dr. Tuveson in the creation of the first mouse model of pancreatic cancer. This week, Dr. Steven Leach and colleagues at Johns Hopkins announced that they have created a fish model of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Leach and colleagues generated the fish by inserting mutant KRAS genes into the fish pancreas. KRAS is the gene most commonly mutated in human pancreatic cancer. The cancers that developed in the fish showed several features in common with the human disease. The authors conclude that their results provide a unique view of the tumor-initiating effects of the KRAS gene in a living vertebrate organism, and suggest that zebrafish models of pancreatic cancer may prove useful in advancing our understanding of the human disease.

Johns Hopkins Pancreas Multidisciplinary Cancer Clinic
June 11, 2008

In the Annals of Surgical Oncology Dr. Timothy Pawlik and colleagues from Johns Hopkins report the findings from the first year of the Johns Hopkins Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Clinic. They compared the clinical care recommendations generated by the multidisciplinary clinic with the recommendations the patients received prior to coming to the clinic. Remarkably, 18.7% of the patients had a change in the status of their clinical stage. Review of the histological slides by dedicated pancreatic pathologists resulted in changes in the interpretation in another 3.4% of the patients. Overall, 23.6% of the patients had a change in their recommended management based on clinical review of their case at the Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Clinic. Dr. Pawlik and colleagues concluded that the single-day pancreatic multidisciplinary clinic provides a comprehensive and coordinated evaluation of patients that leads to changes in therapeutic recommendations in close to one-quarter of patients.

New IPMN FAQ Page Added
June 2008

We have added a new frequently asked questions page to the Patient Education section of this site. It's an FAQ on a type of precancerous lesion called the Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm, or IPMN. We hope that it's helpful!

Matt Dallek's 60-Mile Bike Ride for Pancreatic Cancer Research
May 2008

Matt DallekThis fall, a remarkable young man named Matt Dallek will go on a 60-mile bike ride through the civil war battlefields of Maryland to raise money for pancreatic cancer research at Johns Hopkins. Matt is wonderful, thoughtful and brave. You can learn more about Matt's remarkable story and read the e-mail Matt sent out announcing his ride.


Randy Pausch’s Journey with Pancreatic Cancer
April 2008

Many of you may have heard about Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and father of three who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Last September, Randy gave an inspirational “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” Since that time, Randy’s lecture has garnered worldwide attention from both the public and the media, with appearances on Oprah Winfrey and Diane Sawyer. Importantly, on March 13, 2008, Randy testified before a US Senate subcommittee, advocating for greater federal funding for pancreatic cancer. Randy’s story is a testimony to the power of courage in the face of difficult battle: pancreatic cancer.

A number of you have asked for more information about Randy. We therefore thought it might be helpful to provide some key links.

Watch The Last Lecture on You Tube here:

To read the transcript of Randy’s Last Lecture, click here:

Visit Randy’s webpage to learn more about his personal journey with pancreatic cancer here:

To see Randy Pausch on the Oprah Winfrey show, click here:

For information of Randy Pausch’s new book, click here:

One way you too can help us fight this disease is by participating in research studies such as the NFPTR. To learn more, please click here.

To make a donation to pancreas cancer research at Johns Hopkins, please click here.

Congratulations Dr. Anirban Maitra!
March 2008

Dr. Anirban MaitraOn March 4th, 2008 Dr. Anirban Maitra, Associate Professor of Pathology and member of the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins, was awarded the Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology. This award was presented at the Academy's annual meeting in Denver. The Young Investigator Award recognizes a body of work which has contributed significantly to the diagnosis and understanding of human disease. Dr. Maitra received this important award because of his ground-breaking work on pancreatic cancer. A complete description of the award can be found on the Academy's web site ( and then go to 2008 Annual Meeting and Program Book, then click on Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award - Anirban Maitra. Congratulations Dr. Maitra!