Impact of coronavirus on our research

The progress we’ve fought so hard for is now in jeopardy because of the devastating impact of coronavirus.

As with all aspects of our lives, the pandemic has had a significant impact on our ability to fund research to the extent we need to and for the researchers that we currently invest in to deliver their work.

Lockdown restrictions have meant our supporters have not been able to take part in most of our fundraising events for 2020; reducing our charitable income by almost half.  This money would fund the next steps for our vital research and its loss puts critical progress at stake.

Supporting our research community

Inevitably, social distancing measures, lockdown and the redeployment of staff to urgent frontline care have had an impact on our research. We’ve supported our researchers and the clinical community to keep research going, where possible.

Where it was impossible to carry on studies as intended we have supported and enabled our researchers to join front line care, run Covid-19 treatment and vaccine trials, and help in testing labs. Some researchers also took the opportunity out the lab train in new skills, write up and share research findings, plan new studies and engaged and involve people with lived experience of pancreatic cancer in the development and delivery of their work. However, the researchers we support are as dedicated to improving the lives of people with pancreatic cancer as we are. Their resilience, innovation and commitment to their work is truly inspirational and as a result the impact on the research they carry out was minimised at every opportunity and all our funded research is back up and running and in some cases, never stopped.

Here are just a few examples of how our researchers found innovative ways to keep research going during the pandemic:

Working in partnership with people affected by pancreatic cancer

Dr Gillian Prue, a Research Innovation Fund grant recipient, and her team, are being funded to test a bespoke exercise programme for those who have undergone surgery and receiving chemotherapy. Whilst the project was on hold due to Coronavirus, the team conducted online focus groups with members of our Research Involvement Network. The valuable time spent talking to people affected by the disease, will help to shape, inform and increase the effectiveness of their work.

Using the time away from the laboratory to analyse data

The Pancreatic Cancer UK Grand Challenge project team who are developing and testing a variety of new immunotherapy strategies, used their time away from the lab to analyse the data from experiments. This will give them further insight into whether the techniques and drugs that they have been using so far have been successful and help them decide how to move forward with these experiments in the future.

Bringing the clinical community together

Pancreatic cancer has always been a challenging disease to treat but when the pandemic struck, healthcare professionals had a completely new set of complications to overcome – and fast.  

Seeing a need to bring together the best researches, doctors and nurses to support each other, we reacted quickly to galvanise the community. Over 280 professionals joined our Pancreatic Cancer during Covid-19 Network and attended our webinars to share innovative ideas and best practises, exploring all possible options to ensure people’s treatment could continue.   

The sheer number of participants and breadth of uptake from the UK is incredible. I think it’s heartening to see the community galvanised to face this challenge.

Dr Ganesh Radhakrishna, an oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Chris Macdonald, Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Head of Research, shared this short interview with Ganesh.

Chris Macdonald, Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Head of Research, shared this short interview with Ganesh.

Future investments in research

The financial impact of the pandemic has meant that we have had to significantly reduce the amount we will invest in research. We cannot afford to take a backwards step in pancreatic cancer. We were already facing a pancreatic cancer emergency – but with vital research at risk, the situation is more urgent than ever.

We’ve never been more committed to finding the research breakthroughs people affected by pancreatic cancer desperately need.

We need your support to help us make sure pancreatic cancer research isn’t set back even further.

Please help us make sure we can continue to fund world-class research.