Nutritional therapy research
Recipient: Professor Juan Valle
Host Institution: The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
Title: The PanDA project: Nutritional therapy when it is needed
Type of award: 2015 Clinical Pioneer Award
Clinical specialists from The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, have already carried out ground breaking retrospective research into the impact of Enzyme Replacement Therapy in improving quality of life and survival in patients with pancreatic cancer.
With funding from Pancreatic Cancer UK's Clinical Pioneer Awards scheme, dietitians and oncologists led by Professor Juan Valle (below) at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester are undertaking an exciting new project that could help improve the quality of life for people with pancreatic cancer - and ultimately give them more time with their loved ones.
The Pancreatic Cancer Dietary Assessment (PanDA) study focuses on giving patients nutritional therapy when it is needed. Pancreatic exocrine insufficiency (PEI), which is a common symptom of pancreatic cancer, occurs when a tumour prevents the pancreas from digesting food properly, and, if left untreated, can cause malnutrition and weight-loss. For patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer, PEI can be particularly devastating as it can prevent them from being fit enough to have life-extending chemotherapy.
Earlier research has suggested that pancreatic exocrine insufficiency replacement therapy (PERT) and nutritional support could help improve the outlook for pancreatic cancer patients after surgery. But its effectiveness in helping people withstand palliative chemotherapy has never been investigated before.
Through PanDA, researchers and clinicians at the Christie want to identify patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who are showing symptoms of PEI and what are the best tests to use to diagnose them sooner, so they can start treatment for their symptoms earlier. Researchers also want to observe the effects of nutritional therapy on their quality of life and their ability to undergo life-prolonging treatment.
If PERT and this nutritional therapy approach is shown to be effective, it could transform the way people with inoperable pancreatic cancer are treated. It could help them manage their symptoms better, be well enough for chemotherapy and spend precious extra time with their friends and family.