Cancer Research UK announces £10m pancreatic cancer project

pharmafile | March 24, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development Cancer Research UK, Pancreatic cancer 

Cancer Research UK has revealed a £10 million investment into PRECISION-Panc, a pancreatic cancer-focused project which aims to improve patient survival rates by accelerating scientific discovery and utilising precision medicine approaches.

Currently, pancreatic cancer kills 97% of patients within five years, and little has been effective in chaging that figure.

“Some treatments work, but not many,” says Professor Andrew Biankin, Regius Chair of Surgeryand Director of the Translational Research Centre at the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Cancer Studies explained, “and we can’t predict who they will work for ahead of time. First, we need to be able to better use the drugs we already have. Second, we need new drugs targeting specific weaknesses in different types of the disease, and smarter clinical trials to test them in patients likely to benefit.”

While many suffering from the disease would be willing to take part in experimental clinical trials, they are often let down by the current system which can take a long time to process them, by which point they have deteriorated to a point where their involvement is no longer viable.

“We urgently need to speed up this process, to enable more patients to join trials and try experimental new treatments, which could offer them more benefits than the current standard of care,” Biankin added.

The project hopes to tackle this, with researchers analysing the molecular profile of patients from tumour samples in order to determine and offer a range of trials which may offer the best treatment prospects.  

“There will be an option for all patients who want to join a trial, regardless of their type of pancreatic cancer or how advanced it is,” Biankin continued. “Instead of focusing on the clinical trial and working out if a patient is suitable, we want to flip this round – analyse the patients’ cancers first then match the best trial to them, putting the patient at the heart of the process. It’s how we’ll find the right trial for the right patient.”

The project is due to begin later this year with three trials incorporating 658 patients, with plans to expand shortly afterwards in pursuit of accelerating patient access to the latest research developments, while clinical trial data is in turn rapidly fed back into the lab.

“I believe we’re on the cusp of making some incredible advances which will provide therapeutic options to help people affected by this terrible disease,” Biankin concluded.

Matt Fellows

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