Clinical trial to test new treatment for pancreatic cancer

A study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, forms the basis for a trial which will screen 150 to 200 pancreatic cancer patients for responsiveness to specific drugs at Monash Health in Victoria.

The multi-disciplinary team from Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash Health and Monash University aims to improve treatment for pancreatic cancer, one of the least survivable forms of cancer.

In this initial trial, tumour samples will be screened for genetic compatibility with drug currently used to treat colon cancer in the hope it may be effective in treating up to 10 per cent of pancreatic cancer patients.

“Pancreatic cancer has an overall five year survival rate of around five per cent, which is one of the lowest survival rates of any malignancy. While there have been marginal improvements in treatments, long-term survival rates have remained poor and stagnant over the last 30 years,” said Professor Brendan Jenkins, Research Group Head, Cancer and Immune Signalling at Hudson Institute.

Professor Jenkins and Dr Daniel Croagh, a Monash Health hepatobiliary surgeon who is leading the trial, say it may inform a fast-tracked pipeline for treatment, where biopsies are taken from patients, genetically sequenced and screened for suitability with new drugs, meaning patients could be on a clinical trial within just two weeks.

The treatment will be used to target an important receptor called the epidermal growth factor receptor in those patients whose tumours have a non-mutated version of the KRAS gene. These types of tumours make up about 10 per cent of all pancreatic cancers.

Dr Croagh and Professor Jenkins are hopeful the clinical trial will lead to more targeted treatment approaches to improve responsiveness to drugs and give patients a better chance at surviving longer.

“Pancreatic cancer is a particularly aggressive disease, and a challenging one to treat. The one-size-fits-all treatment approach in place for the last three decades needs to be altered if survival rates are to improve. While there is no silver bullet, we hope this is the beginning of a shift towards better patient outcomes,” they said.

This news post was first published on the Hudson Institute of Medical Research website.

ACRF has supported cancer research at Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Monash University by funding cutting edge research equipment and technology.

For more information on all clinical trials in Australia, please contact Australian Clinical Trials.