New era in precision medicine for pancreatic cancer

Individual clinical trials will help personalise treatment for patients with limited treatment options

The development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer is set to be transformed by a network of clinical trials that aim to find the right trial for the right patient.

This follows a £10 million investment from Cancer Research UK to support PRECISION Panc – a project to develop personalised treatments for pancreatic cancer patients.

This improves the options and outcomes for a disease with stubbornly low survival rates.

Andrew Biankin at the University of Glasgow has pioneered the project along with researchers across the UK. He aims to speed up recruitment and enrolment of pancreatic cancer patients to clinical trials.

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. These will be analysed at the University of Glasgow.

The three trials of this initiative will recruit a total of 658 patients from a number of centres across the UK, with scope to add more trials in the future. Patients could also be helped onto suitable clinical trials that are already up and running.

Biankin said: “Because the disease is so aggressive, patients may receive no treatment at all, or if they are given an option, it will be for just one line of treatment. It’s essential that the most suitable treatment is identified quickly.”

The programme will ensure discoveries from the lab rapidly reach patients and that data from clinical trials feed back into research of the disease.

Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical research, said: “Little progress has been made in outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients throughout the last 40 years and we believe that PRECISION Panc will reshape how we approach treatment development.”

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