UK first as pancreatic cancer trial matches patients with targeted treatment

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A new pancreatic cancer trial which aims to match patients with more targeted and effective treatment for their tumours is to begin in Scotland.

Researchers said it will bring a precision medicine approach to pancreatic cancer treatment for what is said to be the first time in the UK.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK with a five-year survival rate of less than 7%, researchers said.

About 9,600 people are diagnosed with the disease each year in the UK and around 8,800 people die.

Precision-Panc, a research programme and clinical trials project led by the University of Glasgow and majority-funded by Cancer Research UK, has been given approval by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to begin recruiting patients for trials.

Patients will initially be recruited to the Precision-Panc master protocol at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

The master protocol will serve as the entry point to Precision-Panc and is the first step for patients to be recruited before enrolling onto a suitable clinical trial.

As part of the protocol, each patient will undergo a tumour biopsy to obtain material that will then be used for molecular profiling at the Glasgow precision oncology laboratory at the University of Glasgow.

The results may then be used to help match patients to the most appropriate currently available clinical trial.

Project chief investigator Professor Andrew Biankin, regius chair of surgery and director of the University of Glasgow Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, said: “This is an extraordinary opportunity to transform the therapeutic options and treatment pathway for pancreatic cancer patients.

“It is one of the first projects in the UK to bring genetic sequencing into the clinic in order to direct the care of pancreatic cancer patients.”

Simultaneously, the first of three planned Primus (Pancreatic Cancer Individualised Multi-arm Umbrella Study) clinical trials has also opened for recruitment at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

Glasgow is the first site to receive such approval. Additional sites across the UK are currently being set up and are expected to receive approval in early 2018.

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical research, said: “This is the first step towards exciting advancements in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

“We’re thrilled to be turning the latest research discoveries into effective treatments and delivering them to patients.

“We hope that by increasing treatment options for this hard-to-treat disease, we can find the right approach for individual patients and give them the best chance of beating their cancer.”

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