Dr. Jessica Posada, Surgical Pathology Fellow, Article Published in Clinical Cancer Research (CCR)

Dr. Jessica Posada, surgical pathology fellow, and her colleagues recently published an article in Clinical Cancer Research (CCR) (impact factor 13.8) which investigated a new combination therapy for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC). Dr. Posada is a co-first author and her immunofluorescence image of resected pancreatic cancer from a treated patient with LAPC was selected for the journal cover (volume 29, issue 8).

The combination therapy—losartan+FFX+CRT—includes the blood pressure drug losartan plus a chemotherapy cocktail called FOLFIRINOX followed by chemoradiation. The team found that this treatment inhibited immunosuppression, reduced the expression of genes that promote the invasion of tumor cells, and induced changes in the blood levels of various molecules involved in blood vessel health. This study not only reveals how losartan may synergize with emerging cytotoxic regimens, but also provides valuable information for overcoming resistance to immunotherapy—such as immune checkpoint blockers—that can occur in pancreatic cancer. 

Addition of Losartan to FOLFIRINOX and Chemoradiation Reduces Immunosuppression-Associated Genes, Tregs, and FOXP3+ Cancer Cells in Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer”.

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New insights into how blood pressure drug may benefit patients with loca...

Losartan may augment the benefits of other anti-cancer therapies by reducing tumor invasion and immunosuppression.



Jessica Plavicki, PhD has received the Graduate School Faculty Award for Advising and Mentoring for 2023

In order to recognize the significant contributions of Brown University faculty members as advisors or mentors to graduate students, the Graduate School invites nominations on behalf of any Brown faculty member who has served as a graduate advisor, unofficial or official mentor, trainer, or dissertation chair for the Graduate School Faculty Award for Advising & Mentoring. The Graduate School will make up to four awards for mentoring and advising contributions within each of Brown University’s four disciplinary divisions: Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Further information can be found on the Graduate School Website.

Peter Lee, PhD - Collaborates with NIH and NASA to Send Human Heart Tissue Into Space

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Researchers launch heart tissue to the International Space Station to help cardiac patients on Earth.

International Space Station experiments co-led by Peter Lee, a Brown scholar, cardiothoracic surgeon and longtime space researcher, will help inform understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — When Dr. Peter Lee leaves his Brown University lab and looks up into the night sky, he can sometimes catch a glimpse of his own research project.

A practicing cardiothoracic surgeon and a Brown assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine (research), Lee is a member of a multi-institution team that has collaborated with the National Institutes of Health and NASA to send human heart “tissue-on-a-chip” specimens into space. The tissue samples were launched into the stratosphere aboard a Cargo Dragon spacecraft as part of SpaceX CRS-27, a resupply mission to the International Space Station that blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center this spring.

The project, led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, is designed to monitor the tissue for changes in the mitochondria of heart muscle cells, as well as their ability to contract in low-gravity conditions. Astronauts on board during the mission will also introduce three medicines to the samples in an effort to prevent heart cell changes known or suspected to occur in people undertaking long-duration spaceflights.

The low-gravity environment of the space station provides an ideal laboratory in which to study aging-like biological processes that otherwise take place over much longer periods of time on Earth, Lee explained.

“Researchers have found that the changes that happen to human tissues in space are similar to what happen during the course of normal aging — but over a few weeks or a month compared to many years,” Lee said. “Our experiment is using the space microgravity environment as a model of accelerated aging so that we can observe cellular changes in heart muscle that would normally take a long time to happen, and quickly translate them into experiments here on Earth.”

The results of the space experiments have far-reaching implications.

“What we learn from these experiments with heart tissue can inform how we treat age-related cardiac problems in patients,” Lee said. “The study will not only improve understanding of how the heart cells respond to drugs in space, but could also lead to innovations in drug development to help patients on Earth.”