Login to Pancreatic Cancer UK

Investigating pancreatic cancer stem cells from blood

Recipient: Professor Christopher Heeschen

Host Institution: Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) at Queen Mary, University of London

Title: Investigating pancreatic cancer stem cells from blood

Type of award: 2015 Research Innovation Fund

Funding: £74,972

New hopes for more effective treatments in pancreatic cancer have been spurred by the recent identification of pancreatic cancer stem cells and demonstration of their pivotal role in tumour development, spread and resistance to current therapies. The potential for research in this area to lead to new treatments and clinical impact has previously been limited by the challenges that exist in obtaining useful stem cells samples from patients. Professor Christopher Heeschen and his team propose to develop a clinical procedure to obtain and isolate cancer stem cells from a patient’s blood. This would represent a non-invasive technique that would enable researchers to further investigate these important cells. Once the technique has been developed, they will investigate and analyse the specific features of the cancer stem cells in order to work out which treatments would be best to fight them.

This is a promising area of investigation, which will not only lead to new knowledge about the mechanisms by which the cancer stem cells operate (and thus lead to new promising avenues for pancreatic cancer research), but also in the future would allow the investigators to determine which types of treatments would respond best to these aggressive cancer cells. This would enable doctors to decide the most appropriate treatment for pancreatic cancer patients, maximising their chances of survival.