Project Seeks to Advance Precision Medicine for Pancreatic Cancer

Ambitious project marks new era for pancreatic cancer patients, investigators say.

Cancer Research UK has made a £10 million investment into the PRECISION Panc project, which seeks to develop personalized treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer and improve survival outcomes.

The goal of the project is to speed up recruitment and enrollment in clinical trials that are the best fit for each patient with pancreatic cancer. Using the molecular profile of each individual cancer, investigators will offer patients and their physicians a “menu” of trials that would be the most beneficial.

The initial part of the research will involve establishing the best way to collect and profile patient tissue samples. Each patient will have up to 5 samples obtained from their tumor at diagnosis for analysis at the University of Glasgow, according to the investigators. These results will help guide clinical trial options in the future.

The initiative will comprise of 3 trials at the start that will recruit a total of 658 patients from various centers across the UK, with hopes of adding more trials in the future. Patients can also be helped into clinical trials that are already up and running, the authors noted.

“PRECISION Panc aims to transform how we treat pancreatic cancer by matching the right treatment to the right patient,” said Professor Andrew Biankin, a Cancer Research UK pancreatic cancer expert at the University of Glasgow. “Because the disease is so aggressive, patients may receive no treatment at all or if they are given an option it will be for just 1 line of treatment, so it’s essential that the most suitable treatment is identified quickly.

“It’s important we offer all patients the opportunity to be part of research alongside their standard care.”

The program will ensure that lab discoveries reach patients quickly, and that data from clinical trials are put back into research of the disease.

The £10 million investment will support 2 of 3 clinical trials, preclinical work, assay development, biomarker work, and a large portion of molecular sequencing. Furthermore, it will provide overarching support through funding staff, project management, and a steering committee.

“PRECISION Panc has been developed over the course of 3 years through the unwavering commitment of pancreatic clinicians and researchers who see that the patients deserve much more than is currently available to them,” Biankin said. “I’m fully committed to this project and I believe we’re on the cusp of making some incredible advances which will provide therapeutic options to help people affected by this terrible disease.

“Without Cancer Research UK and their vision for cancer precision medicine, and the commitment of the other stakeholders, we couldn’t get PRECISION Panc up and running.”

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease with a 5-year survival rate of 8%. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 53,670 individuals with be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017.

“This ambitious project marks a new era for pancreatic cancer,” said Dr Ian Walker, director of clinical research, Cancer Research UK. “Little progress has been made in outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients over the last 40 years, and we believe that PRECISION Panc will reshape how we approach treatment development.

“Cancer Research UK is determined to streamline research, to find the right clinical trial for all pancreatic cancer patients and to ensure laboratory discoveries have patient benefit.”