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Cancer Research UK Invests £10M in Personalized Approach to Pancreatic Cancer

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Cancer Research UK announced it will invest £10 million ($12.5 million) to support projects aimed at developing precision medicine approaches to pancreatic cancer.

The overarching goal of the funding is to speed up recruitment and enrollment of pancreatic cancer patients in clinical trials based on the molecular profile of each individual's cancer.

"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 one line of treatment," Andrew Biankin, a researcher at the University of Glasgow who pioneered the project, said in a statement. "It's essential that the most suitable treatment is identified quickly ... [and] important we offer all patients the opportunity to be part of research alongside their standard care."

The overall project, called PRECISION Panc, has three parts: a CRUK and Celgene funded study of a Celgene drug, comparing FOLFOX-A (FOLFOX and nab-paclitaxel) to GA (gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel) for patients with advanced disease; a similar study, but for patients whose disease is amenable to surgical removal; and a study supported by AstraZeneca and Medimmune consisting of immunotherapy for patients with advanced disease.

CRUK’s investment will support two of the three clinical trials, as well as preclinical work, assay development, biomarker work, and molecular sequencing, including support though project management, funding staff, and a steering committee.

The first aim of the research is to establish the best way to collect and profile patient tissue, with each patient having up to five tumor samples taken at diagnosis for analysis at the University of Glasgow. The researchers hope to define predictive biomarkers of therapeutic response, concurrently coordinating pre-clinical discovery and clinical development.