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Led by Dr. Angela Alistar, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care to Begin Medical Food Clinical Trials for Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

February 24, 2022

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is the only cancer program in New Jersey to participate in these nutrition-focused studies.

February, 2022 - Morristown, NJ – Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is enrolling participants in two studies that investigate whether nutritional therapies can increase the benefit of anticancer agents for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Internationally renowned pancreatic cancer researcher Angela T. Alistar, MD, medical director of GI medical oncology and of the Breakthrough Treatment Center at Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center, serves as local principal investigator (PI) for the two studies. Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is the only study site in New Jersey for both clinical trials.

“While pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest malignancies, we are making progress in both understanding it and in developing new potential therapies,” said Dr. Alistar. “I am optimistic that clinical trials are enabling us to speed progress toward cures.”

One active area that is being explored is medical food/nutritional therapy. These therapies have the potential to reprogram cell metabolism in ways that can potentially increase response to specific cancer treatment. We now understand that certain nutrients are vital for tumor metabolism and cancer cell survival. By modulating a patient’s diet, we hope to deplete the nutritional resources for pancreatic cancer cells and improve patient response to cancer treatment, with the ultimate goal of increasing survival for patients with pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas is a key organ that controls the metabolism. Interventions that change the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells are scientifically sound.

“What we eat matters as proven by emerging science and data in various tumors. In pancreatic cancer this likely matters even more. We have just scratched the surface in the use of nutritional therapies,” said Dr. Alistar. “We hope that these two studies advance our knowledge of how nutrition and diet impact cancer metabolism, to become a new pillar of cancer care to improve patient outcomes.”

The two studies are:

  • Study Evaluating the Ketogenic Diet in Patients With Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer.
    Participants in this Phase 2 clinical trial will be randomized to receive either a ketogenic diet or non-ketogenic diet. Patients in both arms of the study will also be given standard-of-care agents (nab-paclitaxel, gemcitabine and cisplatin). The study’s primary goal will be to see if addition of the diet to chemotherapy will slow disease progression. Researchers will also compare the changes in chemical compounds in the blood (serum metabolites) of study participants, and will examine potential quality-of-life differences between the two groups. The ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, has a moderate amount of protein and is high in fat. This study is sponsored by Translational Drug Development (TD2), with the collaboration of the Translational Genomics Research. NCT T04631445

  • Medical Food for the Dietary Management of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer.
    All participants in this single-arm study will be given standardized, specially designed medical food, which eliminates certain nonessential amino acids (nonessential amino acid restriction—NEAAR). Each week, study participants will receive NEAAR medical food for five consecutive days, followed by two days of their usual diet. All participants will also be given two first-line drug therapies, gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. The study will look at whether this diet is tolerable and whether it affects markers of pancreatic cancer activity in patients’ blood, as well as the number of serious adverse events that study subjects may suffer. This study is sponsored by Faeth Therapeutics. NCT05078775

To learn more about criteria for participation in these studies, contact Nancy Ginder, RN, BSN or Miriam Atchley.

About Atlantic Health System Cancer Care

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care offers an unparalleled network of cancer specialists and resources through its flagship Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown and Overlook medical centers, as well as its comprehensive oncology programs at Chilton, Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. With more than 250 cancer specialists and medical professionals, all five hospitals and Atlantic Medical Group have been recognized nationally for their role in advancing the fight against cancer.

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care is the lead affiliate of Atlantic Health Cancer Consortium (AHCC) - the first and only New Jersey-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). Atlantic Health System is affiliated with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) of Phoenix, Arizona, and together they have created the Breakthrough Oncology Accelerator, a pioneering research and clinical collaboration designed to improve patient access to the most innovative and sophisticated therapies for cancer.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 18,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 12 counties and 5.5 million people. The not-for-profit system offers more than 400 sites of care, including its seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ and through its partnership with CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold, NJ.

Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey and joins Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners as part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 16 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across five health systems in the region.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.