November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month #PCAM
Pancreatic cancer is at the heart of our research here at the BCI and was the focus of a recent visit from Hugh Brasher and the team from Pancreatic Cancer UK (PCUK) – a charity whose dedicated funding continues to support ground-breaking projects for the future benefit of patients.
Hugh sadly lost his father Chris Brasher, former Olympic champion and founder of the London Marathon, to pancreatic cancer 14 years ago, and visited the centre to learn about what we are doing to beat pancreatic cancer sooner.
Reflecting on the visit, Hugh said:
It’s exciting to hear about the latest research into pancreatic cancer and the potential of where it might go in the future.
Laura Howard-Jones, Head of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Pancreatic Cancer UK said:
The work which is currently taking place at BCI into pancreatic cancer research is absolutely fascinating. It’s really great to know the hard work our fundraisers are doing is supporting such high quality research projects and helping to change the future for people with pancreatic cancer. We’re very pleased Hugh Brasher was able to join us on our most recent visit to BCI, and see first-hand some of the ground breaking research that’s currently being funded by Pancreatic Cancer UK nationally.
Our focus on pancreatic cancer
This year, approximately 9,600 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK, with less than 1% going onto survive the disease for 10 or more years (Cancer Research UK Statistics).
We are not standing still.
PCUK funding has enabled us to investigate new and exciting treatment strategies that harness the immune system or modified viruses to fight pancreatic cancer.
Through national and international collaborations, our teams are working fast to develop new ways of diagnosing and treating individuals living with pancreatic cancer.
Whether it involves developing new 'biomarkers' for early-detection, finding alternative ways to improve drug-delivery or investigating the use of vitamin-A to boost pancreatic cancer chemotherapy, our research is broad and dedicated to making a difference.
In recent years, Professor John Marshall and his team identified a new and specific target in pancreatic cancer - alpha v beta 6 (αvβ6) - a protein that is found highly expressed on the surface of cancerous pancreatic cells but not normal pancreatic cells. More recently, they have developed a promising drug against αvβ6 which is currently being refined for future use in patients.
Using this approach, researchers will be able to deliver drugs with precision to cancer cells and minimise the potential toxic effects to normal healthy cells.
In a project supported by PCUK, Dr Angus Cameron and PhD student Liz Murray aim to improve pancreatic cancer cells' response to therapy by targeting non-cancerous pancreatic stellate cells. Whilst these cells are essential in the function of a normal healthy pancreas, in cancer, they help cancer cells to grow and spread throughout the body and become more resistant to chemotherapy.
Having identified a molecule in stellate cells that promotes cancer cell function, Dr Cameron’s team is investigating the best approaches for blocking its activity.
It is envisaged that in the future, strategies targeting cancer cells as well as non-cancerous cells that help them to grow will improve treatments for a variety of cancers.
Get involved #PCAM & World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2017 #WPCD
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month #PCAM and November 16th is World Pancreatic Cancer Day #WPCD. Whatever your age, get in involved and raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer. For more details on how to get involved, visit the Pancreatic Cancer UK website!