On Friday last week we were at Barts Cancer Institute supporting the 2016 London Pancreas Workshop, an event that takes place every two years bringing together leading health professionals, researchers and students.
Professors Hemant Kocher and Nick Lemoine were co-organisers of the event and welcomed attendees to a series of presentations on the most cutting edge research in pancreatic cancer. There was a real feeling in the room that research is beginning to move towards benefiting patients and improving outcomes, with Professor Lemoine noting that early diagnosis and screening strategies are now on the horizon.
We heard first from Dr Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic from Barts about her work into the discovery of urine biomarkers (see our news story here for more details) and future plans aiming to develop a simple urine test for earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Professor Paula Ghaneh from Liverpool discussed the use of PET and CT scans for diagnosis and staging of pancreatic cancer, and for predicting a patient’s prognosis to a certain treatment. She talked about the many challenges of using these techniques, for example trying to distinguish between pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis or pancreatic cysts, in order to avoid unnecessary surgery. Professor Ghaneh was one of many presenters who highlighted the need for increased investment into pancreatic cancer research in the UK.
Dr Joseph Wherton gave a fascinating talk about the potential use of Skype for patient consultations following successes in a previous study with patients with diabetes, and Dr Somnath Mukherjee from Oxford spoke about his work into the use of radiotherapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and ongoing clinical trials in the area.
For us, the day was particularly exciting as we were able to meet some of the researchers who we have been funding over the last few years and we also brought together Dr John Nathan, one of the lay members of our Scientific Advisory Board, and our new Future Leaders who are working in different areas of pancreatic cancer research across the UK. Further details on their work can be found on our website.
Dr John Nathan commented: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet some young researchers in the pancreatic cancer field and I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and optimism that the long term effects of their work will start to pay dividends in the future. It was also excellent to hear of new studies investigating how pancreatic cancer develops, and how it is best managed. The overall feeling was a lot more optimistic than that of previous meetings, with a sense that in the future we are going to start seeing positive results for patients with pancreatic cancer.”
Left to right: Ricky Cunningham (Future Leader in Glasgow), Asmita Thapa (Future Leader in Oxford), Alejandro Noval (Future Leader at Barts), Siang Boon Koh (Future Leader in Cambridge), Dr John Nathan (lay member on our SAB), Dr Angus Cameron (leading one of our 2015 RIF projects) and Pawan Poudel (Future Leader at the Institute of Cancer Research).