Thanks to a £10M investment from Cancer Research UK, announced today, PRECISION Panc will be able to provide a more detailed understanding of each individual patient’s cancer. A detailed analysis of their tumour (from a biopsy) and of DNA shed by the cancer into the blood stream will be conducted, as well as studying the interaction between cancer cells and the immune system. Once we have this detailed information it will allow us to find the right trial for the patient based on the molecular profile of their tumour. It will also give us an avenue for fast-tracking new treatments, which may be focusing on specific groups of patients with pancreatic cancer, for example having a specific genetic predisposition in their tumour.
Cancer Research UK’s investment will support preclinical work, assay development, biomarker evaluation and as well as a huge amount of genomic sequencing. The programme will ensure discoveries from the lab rapidly reach patients, and that data from clinical trials feed back into research of the disease.
One key area that can be specifically addressed as a result of this investment is the speed of recruitment and enrolment of pancreatic cancer patients into clinical trials that are suitable for them on an individual level. Currently there are three trials in development under the PRECISION Panc umbrella that will open later this year, which will recruit around 650 patients from across the UK. Cancer Research UK and Celgene jointly fund two of these trials with the third being funded by AstraZeneca.
Professor Andrew Biankin, based at the University of Glasgow and one of four joint co-leads of the programme notes that: “PRECISION Panc aims to transform how we treat pancreatic cancer by matching the right treatment to the right patient.
“Because pancreatic cancer 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. It’s important we offer all patients the opportunity to be part of research alongside their standard care.”
Professor Biankin added: “PRECISION Panc has been developed over the course of three years through the unwavering commitment of pancreatic clinicians and researchers who see that the patients deserve much more than is currently available to them. I’m fully committed to this project and I believe we’re on the cusp of making some incredible advances that will provide therapeutic options to help people affected with this terrible disease.
“Without Cancer Research UK and their vision for cancer precision medicine, and the commitment of the other stakeholders, we couldn’t get Precision Panc up and running.”
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.”
The applicants on the successful application include: Professor Andrew Biankin, University of Glasgow; Professor Owen Sansom, Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute; Professor Jeff Evans, Cancer Research UK Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit; Professor Juan Valle, University of Manchester, Dr David Chang, University of Glasgow; Professor Caroline Dive, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Dr Claus Jorgensen, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Dr Christopher Lord, The Institute for Cancer Research, Dr Eric O’Neill, Cancer Research UK/Medical Research Council Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology and Professor Duncan Jodrell, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
PRECISION Panc has also received funding and support from the University of Glasgow, Celgene, Wellcome Trust, Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Genomes Partnership, MRC/ESPRC Glasgow Molecular Pathology Node, NHS Scotland, The Howat Foundation, Pancreatic Cancer UK, The Scottish Precision Medicine Ecosystem/Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre, AstraZeneca MedImmune, NCRI and ECMC.
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