Australian Researchers Make Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Breakthrough

An international project assisted by researchers from The University of Western Australia has offered new hope to patients with pancreatic cancer.

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While many advances have been made in other types of cancer, pancreatic cancer remains largely incurable, with survival rates less than five per cent five years after diagnosis.

It is the ninth most common cancer in men and tenth most common cancer in women according to the Cancer Council Australia.

The Australian Pancreatic Genome Initiative (APGI), funded by the National Health and Medical Research Cancer and led by a team at the Garvan Institute and Kinghorn Cancer Centre in Sydney, has led an international program aimed at changing this.

This is the fourth paper in Nature from this group continuing to demonstrate how important this program is to a better understanding of pancreatic cancer.

Dr Peter Bailey, formerly of the Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics at The University of Queensland, and now at the Institute of Cancer Sciences, the University of Glasgow, led the project that has identified new molecular subtypes of pancreatic cancer that further define the disease and allows new therapeutic strategies to be developed for each.

The landmark seven year study has identified that pancreatic cancer is not one, but four types of cancer.

Adjunct Associate Professor Nikolajs Zeps, of UWA’s School of Surgery and St John of God Subiaco Hospital, oversaw the collection of pancreatic cancer samples from patients diagnosed in WA.

He said the paper was a great example of the benefits of strong collaborations within WA and with colleagues nationally.

"This project is another clear demonstration of the enormous value from investing in core infrastructure like biobanks and clinical registries," Dr Zeps said.

"It would not have been possible without close cooperation of surgeons, pathologists, laboratory scientists and bioinformaticians.

"The work of Peter Bailey and his colleagues is of central importance to identifying new opportunities to target pancreatic cancer and will assist with the design of new clinical trials to combat this disease."


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