The development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer is set to be transformed by a network of clinical trials, aiming to find the right trial for the right patient, after a £10 million investment from Cancer Research UK.
The investment will support the PRECISION Panc project which aims to develop personalised treatments for pancreatic cancer patients, improving the options and outcomes for a disease where survival rates have remained stubbornly low.
The work is being jointly led by researchers from the Cancer Research UK/Medical Research Council Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, the University of Glasgow, the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, the Cancer Research UK Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit, the University of Manchester, the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, the Institute for Cancer Research, and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. The Oxford team will be investigating the potential role of radiotherapy in personalised therapy.
The researchers will use the molecular profile of each individual cancer to offer patients and their doctor a menu of trials that might benefit them.
The first wave of research will establish the best way to collect and profile patient tissue samples. Each patient will have up to five samples taken from their tumour at diagnosis for analysis at the University of Glasgow.
The results will guide clinical trial options in the future.
The three trials planned as part of this initiative will recruit a total of 658 patients from a number of centres across the UK – with the scope to add more trials in the future. Patients may also be helped onto suitable clinical trials that are already up and running.
The programme will ensure discoveries from the lab rapidly reach patients, and that data from clinical trials feed back into research of the disease.
Cancer Research UK’s investment will support two of the three clinical trials, preclinical work, assay development, biomarker work and the huge amount of molecular sequencing.
The charity’s funding will also provide overarching support though project management, funding staff, and a steering committee.
Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical research, said: ‘This ambitious project marks a new era for pancreatic cancer. Little progress has been made in outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients over the last 40 years, and we believe that PRECISION Panc will reshape how we approach treatment development.
‘Cancer Research UK is determined to streamline research, to find the right clinical trial for all pancreatic cancer patients and to ensure laboratory discoveries have patient benefit.’