Patient Resiliency and Cachexia Biology

Pancreatic diseases inflict a huge burden and suffering on patients, dramatically impacting their quality of life. Patients with pancreatitis frequently have severe pain that requires prolonged hospital stays and significantly limits their activities once discharged. Even after recovery, many suffer from malnutrition. In patients with pancreatic cancer, even small pancreatic tumors will induce cachexia (muscle wasting, anorexia, fatigue, lethargy), a major barrier during treatment in addition to quality of life.

The Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care is dedicated to improve patient resiliency and quality of life through supporting research critical for understanding drivers of cachexia and other debilitating symptoms, and discovering novel treatment options. We anticipate that increasing resiliency will decrease the length of post-surgical hospital stays and increase survival time.

Ongoing Research Projects

While the exact mechanisms linking pancreatic cancer to cachexia are unknown, our physicians and researchers are working to identify anti-cachexia agents and blood-based biomarkers of cachexia to ultimately integrate into our Pre-habilitation program; a program designed to help patients be as healthy as possible before a tumor resection surgery or chemotherapy through use of nutritional, pharmaceutical, and behavioral therapy.

Some of our current research is directed at understanding the role of pancreatic cancer extracellular vesicles (submicron-sized particles secreted by cells) in neuroinflammation and visceral pain, and how metabolic reprogramming and undernutrition impact pancreatic cancer cachexia.

To incorporate cachexia metrics into both the Pancreas Translational Tumor Board and into the clinical workflow, Dr. Aaron Grossberg is optimizing a method to quantify muscle wasting. By analyzing pre-surgical CT images, his lab aims to implement a metric to quantify lean body mass. Incorporating muscle wasting measurements into the clinical workflow at OHSU would provide vital prognostic information to clinicians and could also prospectively or retrospectively be related to patient outcomes.

  • Sarcopenia analysis in pancreatic cancer – Stephanie Krasnow
  • Muscle biomarkers of cachexia, surgical and oncologic outcomes in pancreatic cancer – Aaron Grossberg
  • Evaluating the role of neoadjuvant therapy on pancreatic cancer resection outcomes – Aaron Grossberg
  • How metabolic reprogramming in the liver impacts tissue wasting, physiology, and survival in pancreatic cancer – Aaron Grossberg
  • Investigating the role of OSM-OSMR in the pancreatic tumor microenvironment’s effect on cachexia – Teresa Zimmers
  • Understanding the role of Myc in pancreatic cancer cachexia – Rosalie Sears
  • Using tissue microarrays from patient samples to study pancreatitis – Rosalie Sears
  • Developing and characterizing new models of pancreatic cancer cachexia – Teresa Zimmers