The Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) has named UPMC surgical oncologist Herbert Zeh III, M.D., FACS, the 2012 ACGT Investigator. The award comes with a $500,000 grant that will allow him to continue his promising research focused on gene therapy for pancreatic cancer.
This award is part of the organization’s Fund for Advancement, which aims to stimulate innovation and progress by supporting translational research. The ACGT recognizes the potential that gene therapy approaches hold for cancer treatment and is attempting to provide more resources to push these studies into clinical trials.
Dr. Zeh’s expertise lies in cancers and diseases of the pancreas and the use of state-of-the-art robotic technology. This award will allow Dr. Zeh and his team to continue focusing on immunotherapy techniques using viruses to stimulate the immune system to fight pancreatic cancer.
“I am honored to receive this generous award from the ACGT. Studies utilizing gene therapy as a treatment technique for pancreatic cancer have shown great promise to date. It is my hope that my research will bring the medical community one step closer to beating pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Zeh.
His proposal utilizes a gene therapy approach that has proven extremely successful in the laboratory. In these newly-funded studies, Dr. Zeh’s team will use a modified virus to produce hormones that attract a tumor-fighting T-cell that not only kills cancer but also protects the patient against potential recurrence. This approach, also used to treat patients with brain tumors, has proven toxic to cancer cells and also holds greater potential for long-term survival.
Dr. Zeh is chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgical Oncology at UPMC CancerCenter and co-directs the UPMC Pancreatic Cancer Center, as well as the UPCI GI Oncology Program at UPMC. Dr. Zeh, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He has received Pitt’s award for excellence in clinical trial development. He is the principle investigator on four trials for pancreatic cancer and oversees a translational research lab study.