Improving the effectiveness of pancreatic cancer therapies

Dr Kirsteen Campbell
Location: CRUK Scotland Institute
Date: TBC
Project status: Ongoing

The challenge 

The majority of patients with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed too late for surgery, the only potentially curative option. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used to extend the lives of patients who are not able to have surgery, however they are not currently very effective at treating pancreatic cancer as they often fail to completely destroying the tumour cells, allowing the cancer to re-grow. New and improved treatment options for pancreatic cancer are urgently needed. 

The project 

A group of molecules called the BCL-2 family are involved in the process of cell death. This process takes place in all cells, but is often altered in cancer cells. Researchers think that this could be one of the reasons that current treatments are not very good at completely eliminating all cancer cells. Drugs which block the activity of BCL-2 molecules have been effective in improving treatment response in other cancers, including blood cancers. This project will investigate whether these drugs may also be able to improve response to treatment in pancreatic cancer.  

The hope 

New treatments which are able to completely destroy all pancreatic cancer cells would be a significant step forward and allow more people to receive effective treatment for this devastating disease.