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University of Glasgow research details promising precision medicine approach in pancreatic cancer

Published on 12/10/20 at 01:41pm

Researchers at the University of Glasgow have unveiled a new precision medicine approach to identify and pair pancreatic cancer patients with the therapies most likely to prove effective in repairing DNA damage in their tumour cells.

The researchers leveraged cell lines and organoids generated from participants to develop novel biomarkers which could be used to more accurately predict the patient populations whose tumours are most likely to respond to available therapies.

By testing these biomarkers against a range of drugs, the team were able to establish a strategy to effectively anticipate which drug will work from which patient, whether in combination or as a monotherapy, and they are now looking to test this strategy in clinical trials. Enrolment is soon to launch in Glasgow, with a further 20 centres poised to follow suit across the UK.

“Our study is a huge breakthrough in terms of what might be possible with future treatments,” remarked Dr David Chang of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences. “As part of our research, the strategy we’ve developed is extremely promising, and we’re very pleased and proud to see it now be taken into clinical trial. For us, this is a demonstration of a bench-to-bedside precision oncology approach to tackle this terrible disease.”

The study, published in Gastroenterology under the title ‘Targeting DNA damage response and replication stress in pancreatic cancer’, is being spearheaded by the dedicated pancreatic cancer-focused development programme Precision-Panc, led by the University of Glasgow, and funded by AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK.

Pancreatic cancer is still plagued by some of the worst survival rates despite progression in the disease, with late diagnoses occurring commonly and further complicating patient outcomes. On top of this, pancreatic cancer patients only have access to a small number of effective treatment options.

“We urgently need new ways to treat pancreatic cancer. The disease only has a few treatment options and is generally diagnosed at a late stage, so survival has remained stubbornly low,” commented Cancer Research UK Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell. “The Precision-Panc study offers a dynamic way to explore new tailored treatments, and it’s fantastic that we now have new drug candidates to add to the PRIMUS-004 trial. We look forward to seeing if these drugs, which have shown promise in the lab, have the same impact for people with pancreatic cancer.”

Matt Fellows

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