By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Every moment matters now for 54-year-old Mitchell Berk and his wife. They say their dreams of growing old together were probably shattered when he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in December.
“It was shocking. I was stunned,” said Mitchell.
The treatments for pancreatic cancer are limited and not very effective.
But this lab at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center could change that.
“We’re hoping for a breakthrough based on immune therapies for pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Robert Vonderheide, who is leading a new, multi-center research project.
It’s a new Dream Team funded with an eight million dollar grant from Stand Up To Cancer.
“This is a type of funding that can make a huge difference and already has,” said Dr. Vonderheide.
The project is aiming to create a new kind of therapy that would activate the immune system to attack pancreatic tumors.
“The world of immune therapy of cancer is accelerating. It’s a brand new day for cancer therapeutics based on activating patients’ immune systems,” said Dr. Vonderheide.
“I think it’s great,” said Mitchell.
He is currently on an experimental therapy that has helped a little. He could eventually benefit from the new Dream Team research.
“What I’m looking for now is quality of life, to be able to enjoy the time that I have with my wife,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell and his wife are doing a lot of traveling. He hopes to be able to visit all 50 states. He has seven left to see.
The new trial is expected to start this summer.