Glasgow University to lead major new pancreatic cancer study

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Credit: Howard Lake

Rowan Harris
Writer

The University of Glasgow is set to play a leading role in future pancreatic cancer trials in the UK.

Professor Andrew Biankin at the University of Glasgow has pioneered the project, alongside researchers across the UK, which aims to speed up the enrolment of pancreatic cancer patients to clinical trials based on the molecular profiles of their individual tumours.

Professor Biankin commented: “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, so it’s essential that the most suitable treatment is identified quickly.”

The initiative, PRECISION Panc, has received a total of £10 million from Cancer Research UK, £8 million of which will be directed to the University of Glasgow. This will be used to develop personalised treatment programmes for patients with pancreatic cancer, a cancer for which improvements in survival rates have been notoriously slow.

In Scotland, the number of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer has risen by 10% over the past 10 years, with mortality rates increasing by 6% over the same period.

Three trials will be conducted involving 658 patients from across the UK, the first two of which have been funded by Cancer Research UK. There remains scope for further trials in the future.

Initial research will focus on establishing the most effective way to collect and profile patient tissue samples. This will involve taking up to five samples from the individual’s tumour at diagnosis which will subsequently be analysed at the University of Glasgow with the aim to guide future clinical trial options.

Professor Biankin, who relocated to Glasgow from Australia in 2013, said: “This investment from Cancer Research UK, together with the commitment from our other stakeholders, puts Glasgow at the centre of pancreatic cancer treatment and research in the UK, if not the whole of Europe.”