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Research Round-Up

Find out the latest information in pancreatic cancer research

Last updated: April 2018

Innovations in treatment

Australia launches a CAR-T cell therapy treatment study

A major study has been launched in Sydney, Australia, to develop a CAR-T cell immunotherapy which can be used to treat pancreatic cancer. Previously, CAR-T cell therapy has been approved by the FDA in the United States to treat other forms of cancer, and developing an immunotherapy using CAR-T cells is a current priority for research teams working around the world.

Watch Pancreatic Cancer UK Scientific Advisory Board member Prof Doug Fearon talk about CXCR4 inhibitors, as a possible future aid to immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer

Prof Doug Fearon, member of Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Scientific Advisory Board and Professor at Cold Springs Harbour Laboratory in New York, USA, talks about his progress moving a possible inhibitor therapy to aid immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer, to early clinical trials. 

Outlook for pancreatic cancer – video with US experts

What is the future outlook for pancreatic cancer research? Various leading thinkers in the USA share their thoughts on where research needs to go next.

Starving pancreatic tumours by blocking off their fuel sources – including stopping cells from eating themselves

New research has shown that pancreatic cancer cells break down some of their own parts for fuel - a process known as autophagy, or "self-eating." Researchers at the University of North Carolina are exploring how they can stop this process from happening, to slow down tumour progression.

New weapon against pancreatic cancer

new mouse model in pancreatic cancer has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas, San Antonio, which could be used to test many new drugs currently in development by mimicking human pancreatic cancer in mice.

Personalised medicine

Canadian pancreatic cancer researchers, including a team at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, are launching a major new study to improve personalized treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer. The Enhanced Pancreatic Cancer Profiling for Individualized Care study, or EPPIC, is funded by a $5million grant and will use genomic sequencing and bioinformatics analyses of patient tumours to understand what routine of treatment will be the more viable options for metastatic cancer. The team are focussing on cancer which has spread, because of the frequency with which patients present with these circumstances.

Improvements in treatment and care

What are the current unmet needs in pancreatic cancer?

Watch Dr Diane Simeone from New York University talk about the current unmet needs in improving treatments and survival for people with pancreatic cancer – starting with the general scepticism in the research community. She also highlights that very few pancreatic cancer patients actually access clinical trials, a barrier to generating the rich data which propels research forwards.

Survival outcomes

A group of researchers at Penn University are working to detect early stage ovarian cancer, with the eventual aim of using their novel methods to detect early pancreatic cancer too. However this technique doesn’t use biomarkers or sophisticated computer imaging. They’re using the help of sniffer dogs. Read the full article .

Research funding

An individual donor proved the catalyst for the launch of an entire research centre, the Henry Ford Pancreatic Cancer Center in Detroit, Michigan. The new centre will focus on the early detection of pancreatic cancer. The gift is one of the largest individual anonymous donations in history. As well as focusing on early detection, the Henry Ford Cancer Centre will focus on the vital areas of data analytics, translational research, precision medicine and clinical trials.

Public health, policy and research campaigning

Blood pressure drugs may increase risk of pancreatic cancer in post-menopausal women

New research from the USA suggests that certain blood pressure drugs may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer in postmenopausal women. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are used to stop calcium from entering the heart’s muscle cells, which, in turn, relaxes the blood vessels. This, the researchers claim, is because blood pressure drugs cause an increase in an immune regulator called sRAGE. Previous research has shown that sRAGE plays a key role in reducing inflammation in the pancreas and therefore the risk of pancreatic cancer. 

Increasing risk factors in pancreatic cancer

This in-depth article is an excellent examination of various current trends being explored in the link between lifestyle choices, risk factors and public health issues being linked to pancreatic cancer.

Can weight loss reverse obesity’s pro-cancer effects?

Obesity is a risk factor for cancer. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have been working to find ways to reverse obesity-linked biological changes in the body that are associated with cancer growth.

A California judge has ruled that coffee should come with a cancer warning

With the World Health Organisation moving coffee to a ‘possible carcinogen’ owing to the reported effects of acrylamide, some campaigners are pushing for big coffee producers to label coffee as a possible health hazard.

Patient involvement in research

Cancer in the 21st Century project team get help from PCUK’s Research Involvement Network

Researchers in the University of Edinburgh’s Cancer in the 21st Century Team are working on a project exploring patient and family member stories of new forms of diagnosis, research and treatments in cancer care. Their current project are interviewing patients and their families, to understand how novel techniques are shaping experiences of cancer. In pancreatic cancer one example of this is the emergence of large scale clinical trials such as Precision Panc. The Edinburgh team will be interviewing patients who enrol in Precision Panc to understand their experience of participating in such a unique clinical trial, and asked for the Research Involvement Network’s help. In response, the RIN helped to identify priorities and themes, and how to develop questions which will sensitively handle the emotional and physical experiences of having pancreatic cancer and participating in a trial. Dr Emily Ross, said:

“Those [RIN members] we spoke to provided very insightful feedback, and helped us to think about how we might invite patients to interview, and conduct these interviews in a sensitive way.

In terms of approaching patients, following Network members’ input we will be very clear about the potential impacts of our research for the future of pancreatic cancer care, and how the participation of individual patients will contribute to this. This was because the Network emphasised that helping others was a key goal for patients taking part in research.”

If you have more questions about research, get in touch with Leanne or Nile in the research team by email.