Harnessing immune therapies to combat pancreatic cancer

Investigating the role of the immune system in the fight against pancreatic cancer is the focus of innovative research at Hudson Institute, thanks to new funding announced on World Pancreatic Cancer Day (Thursday, 16 November).

Dr Daniel Croagh and Professor Brendan Jenkins

The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has awarded an Innovation Grant to Professor Brendan Jenkins, one of six separate projects funded as part of a $2 million announcement to help fight the disease.

With a five year survival rate of less than eight per cent, pancreatic cancer is one of the least survivable forms of all major cancers and there has been little to no progress for the disease in 40 years.

Prof Jenkins’ group will undertake preclinical studies of three different immune-based drugs in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a form of the disease that affects an overwhelming majority of pancreatic cancer patients (90 per cent).

He will work with Dr Daniel Croagh, a Monash Health hepatobiliary surgeon and Monash University senior lecturer, to target treatments to samples of both localised and metastatic tumours.

“This project aims to show the preclinical efficacy of a novel series of immune-based therapies across a range of human pancreatic tumours that have been genetically screened to predict how responsive that tumour will be to treatment,” Prof Jenkins says.

“Importantly, this project will also aim to identify new genes that can be the target of innovative treatment approaches for pancreatic cancer,” he says.

Chairman of the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Alan McArthur, said the six grants awarded in this round are another important step in breaking through more than 40 years of little to no progress in solving the very poor survival rates of pancreatic cancer.

“These grants to globally-leading researchers provide pancreatic cancer patients, their families and the community with hope that we are unlocking the answers to this hideous problem,” Mr McArthur said.

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