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Johnson Cancer Research Center

Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research

The Kansas State University Center of Excellence in Pancreatic Cancer Research, established by the Johnson Cancer Research Center in November, 2018, boasts a multidisciplinary team of outstanding researchers from five K-State departments and several specialized laboratories as well as the University of Kansas Cancer Center. The center of excellence is led by Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry.

Major goals:
  • to develop liquid biopsy early-detection methods that enable inexpensive, frequent and routine testing for onset or recurrence of pancreatic cancer
  • to develop new drug therapies using cutting-edge chemical synthesis and characterization methods, expert nanotechnology, state-of-the-art in-vitro experimentation and ultra-high-field MRI methods
Focus areas:

Cancer Detection
Led by Jun Li, professor of chemistry

Pancreatic cancer has unfavorable biologic features that have to be discovered early to have any chance for successful treatment with the current standard of care. To date, these tumors are rarely diagnosed early because of their short lead times of a couple of months to two years. For these cases, inexpensive screening methods have to be developed to permit frequent routine tests for the onset or recurrence of cancer. Liquid biopsies based on tumor-specific/highly selective alterations of the proteome show promise in this area. This center will develop two cutting-edge detection methods for profiling pancreatic cancer overexpressed proteases.

Drug Discovery
Led by Duy Hua, university distinguished professor of chemistry

The proteolytic network is dysfunctional in tumors, contributing to tumor survival, angiogenesis, invasion and, in pancreatic cancer, to desmoplasia. In order to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy against pancreatic cancer, this center will develop novel combination drug therapies comprised of protease blockers for ADAM 10 and cathepsin B, together with either FDA-approved pancreatic cancer drugs or chemical variations of FDA-approved drugs.

In-Vivo Testing and MRI
Led by Jianzhong Yu, assistant professor of anatomy & physiology

The center of excellence will evaluate tumor growth with classic methods as well as with ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in K-State's Chemistry Core Instrumentation Facility. Advanced MRI methods will enable to quantify the growth of tumor and stromal regions, (micro)metastases and (micro)vasculature in response to chemotherapy.

Other Scientists and Partners


News Release - Kansas State University launches Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research - November 19, 2018

K-State Foundation's 'Good for K-State' magazine feature - "A big step in cancer detection" - Summer 2019