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Improving response to radiotherapy treatment in pancreatic cancer patients

Recipient: Dr Stewart Martin

Host Institution: University of Nottingham

Title: Improving response to radiotherapy treatment in Pancreatic Cancer Patients

Type of award: 2014 Research Innovation Fund

Funding: £52,105 

Approximately 30% of pancreatic cancer patients present with locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC). Chemotherapy is the mainstay of LAPC treatment and is increasingly being combined with radiotherapy (CRT) in an attempt to improve survival rates.

We have identified a new class of drugs and have preliminary laboratory data showing that it is highly effective at killing pancreatic tumour cells. The drugs target a protein in the cancer cells called Thioredoxin Reductase (TrxR). We have evidence, in other tumour types, that targeting this protein can make cancer cells substantially more sensitive to radiation – we wish to see if this drug can make pancreatic cells and tumours more sensitive to radiotherapy with a view to increasing CRT response rates and survival of pancreatic cancer patients. Expression of this protein has never been assessed in patient tumours – we will, therefore, assess levels of this, and associated proteins, in a large number of pancreatic patient samples with a view to developing means to identify individuals that would particularly benefit from such novel therapies i.e. to develop a ‘personalised medicine’ approach.