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New Markers of sensitivity to treatment in pancreatic cancer

Recipient: Dr Chiara Braconi

Host Institution: NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Title: New markers of sensitivity to treatment in pancreatic cancer

Type of award: 2014 Research Innovation Fund

Funding: £60,000

Recent advances in oncology have extended the range of treatments that can be offered to patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

These include a combination chemotherapy regime called FOLFIRINOX which has the best efficacy in shrinking tumour down and prolonging life expectancy. However, this regime comes with severe toxicity. Unfortunately we are lacking tools that allow the researchers to identify which patients are going to benefit more from this treatment so that the oncologist and the patient can take an informed decision by balancing the chance of success and the risk of side effects.

The researchers will study small elements of our genome, called microRNAs, which can be found in the tissue and the blood. The work aims to profile the expression of these microRNAs in the blood of patients before they start the treatment and analyse if microRNAs may predict the sensitivity to the chemotherapy. Analyses will then be extended to borderline resectable pancreatic cancers to assess if miRNAs can predict which patients may benefit from this treatment in order to become resectable. Further studies will be focused on the mechanisms of resistance to this chemotherapy mediated by miRNAs in order to find additional targets for therapies.