Glasgow University researchers develop 'breakthrough' new approach to treating pancreatic cancer

Researchers at Glasgow University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences have developed a ‘breakthrough’ new approach to treating pancreatic cancer.

The study was led by Glasgow University.

A study detailing the ‘Precision Medicine’ approach has been published in Gastroenterology.

It marks an important step forward in potential treatment for pancreatic cancer, whose survival rates remain lower than many other types of cancer.

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There are very few treatment options for people with the disease. Some patients cannot repair damaged DNA in the cancer cells, which makes the cancer vulnerable to some drug treatments.

The study used cell lines and organoids from pancreatic cancer patients to create molecular markers which can predict whether a patient will respond to drugs targeting DNA damage.

This method was tested and refined by researchers, and is now being taken forward into clinical trial.

The trial will help doctors predict which patient might respond to which type of drugs, either alone or in combination.

Funding for the trial has come from AstraZeneca, and it will be included in the wider pancreatic cancer trial PRIMUS-004, which has been endorsed by Cancer Research UK.

Recruitment will open soon in Glasgow, followed by 20 other centres around the UK.

Dr David Chang, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, said: “Our study is a huge breakthrough in terms of what might be possible with future treatments. As part of our research, the strategy we’ve developed is extremely promising, and we’re very pleased and proud to see it now be taken into clinical trial. For us, this is a demonstration of a bench-to-bedside precision oncology approach to tackle this terrible disease.”

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We urgently need new ways to treat pancreatic cancer. The disease only has a few treatment options and is generally diagnosed at a late stage, so survival has remained stubbornly low.

“The Precision Panc study offers a dynamic way to explore new tailored treatments, and it’s fantastic that we now have new drug candidates to add to the PRIMUS-004 trial. We look forward to seeing if these drugs, which have shown promise in the lab, have the same impact for people with pancreatic cancer.”

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