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New clinical trial offers hope for advanced pancreatic cancer patients

Posted by: Comms 27 February 2017

Pancreatic Cancer UK is encouraging people with advanced pancreatic cancer to find out more about an exciting clinical trial taking place in nine institutions nationally, offering a new combination of treatments which could ultimately allow patients to live for longer.

The new HALO 301 trial could offer patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread outside the pancreas a potential new treatment option, for a disease which currently has very few treatments.

The clinical trial is being held in hospitals in Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Middlesbrough, North Wales, Peterborough and the West Midlands. It will aim to allow people with advanced pancreatic cancer with high levels of a substance called hyaluronan (HA), a group which makes up about 40 per cent of patients, to live for longer. HA helps the pancreatic cancer tumour to grow. The patients on the trial will be treated with two existing chemotherapies, nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane®) and gemcitabine (Gemzar®), in combination with a new treatment called PEGPH20. This is an enzyme which breaks down HA. The hope is that this new combination treatment will slow tumour growth, ultimately allowing patients to live for longer.

The earlier HALO 202 trial in America has already shown real promise. Results published in January showed that the combination of treatments significantly delayed tumour growth and disease progression in advanced patients with high levels of HA (1). Fewer people receiving the combination treatment experienced blood clots in their veins, which is a common problem for pancreatic cancer patients.

The HALO 301 trial is an international trial being led in the UK by Dr Pippa Corrie, Consultant and Associate Lecturer in Medical Oncology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. Dr Corrie, who is also a member of Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Medical Advisory Board, said: “I’m delighted to be leading this innovative new trial in a disease area which has historically been neglected in terms of research and investment and joining Pancreatic Cancer UK in spreading the word about it to patients. We hope it leads to not only a much-needed new treatment option for eligible patients with advanced disease, but also ultimately helps to improve survival rates and quality of life for many patients across the UK in the future.”

Anna Jewell, Director of Operations at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Clinical trials for pancreatic cancer are always exciting, as new treatment options are urgently needed to allow patients to spend more precious time with their families, and this one shows real promise. We are encouraging patients with advanced pancreatic cancer to find out whether the HALO trial might be an option for them from their consultant, or by calling one of our nurses on our Support Line.

“Patients and families can find out more about this and other clinical trials which may be available in their local area by looking at our online Trial Finder. They can also talk to our nurses to find out more about taking part in a trial and whether it would be right for them. We are absolutely determined to take on this tough cancer by ensuring that patients have access to new, effective treatments on the NHS to allow them to live longer and have a better quality of life.”

There are 9,600 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK (2).

Patients and families can find out more about the HALO trial at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/halo and people can call Pancreatic Cancer UK’s specialist nurses for more information on the charity’s Support Line, on freephone 0808 801 0707.


1. Trial results included in press release from Halozyme, ‘HALOZYME ANNOUNCES PHASE 2 STUDY IN ADVANCED PANCREAS CANCER MEETS KEY ENDPOINTS’, announced January 5th 2017.

2. Cancer Research UK

Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Trial Finder, the first UK-wide map and database of current clinical trials dedicated specifically to pancreatic cancer, can be accessed at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/trialfinder