First of its kind pancreatic cancer trial to begin in Scotland

Published: 5 December 2017

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

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

Run by Precision-Panc, a research programme and clinical trials project led by the University of Glasgow and majority-funded by Cancer Research UK, the trial will bring a precision medicine approach to pancreatic cancer treatment for the first time in the UK.

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer death in the UK with a 5-year survival rate of less than 7%. Around 9,600 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer per year in the UK and around 8,800 people die.

Precision-Panc has been given approval by the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board to begin initial recruitment of patients 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 tumour biopsy to obtain material that will then be used for molecular profiling at the Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory within the University of Glasgow. The results may then be used to help match patients to the most appropriate currently available clinical trial.

This ability to link clinical data with the patient’s unique molecular profiling data will enable rapid new discoveries, and enhance delivery of precision medicine to current and future patients.

The team at Glasgow Royal Infirmary have spent the last year modifying the patient pathway and developing endoscopic biopsy techniques so that patients can provide samples for the Precision-Panc study as part of their routine diagnostic care – making it easier for patients to be able to enter these studies without additional tests.

Simultaneously, the first of three planned PRIMUS (Pancreatic Cancer Individualized 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 this approval. Additional sites across the UK and Northern Ireland are currently in set up and are expected to receive approval in early 2018.Andrew Biankin

Professor Andrew Biankin, Chief Investigator of this project and 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.”

The overall aim of Precision-Panc is to make precision medicine a reality for more people with pancreatic cancer through building up knowledge that will ultimately allow clinicians to match patients with the most suitable treatment or clinical trial for them. The project aims to facilitate drug development, and ultimately new drug approval, allowing access and improving survival in patients with pancreatic cancer.

Three clinical trials, funded in part by Cancer Research UK, are planned which will recruit a total of 658 pancreatic cancer patients under the Precision-Panc umbrella, with scope to add more trials in the future. Each clinical trial will test new drugs and combinations of drugs tailored to match specific patients.

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.” 

Anna Jewell, Director of Operations at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to see the first stages of this game-changing effort to change the future for people with pancreatic cancer. The clinical trial in Glasgow will provide a much-needed new treatment option for eligible patients with a disease, which sadly has so few treatments available, and we would encourage patients to ask their doctor or consultant if they think this trial would be suitable for them.”

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First published: 5 December 2017