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Improving pancreatic cancer survival rates

20 February 2019

Artist's impression of torso and pancreas scan

Over £370,000 has been awarded to Dr Catherine Hogan at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute to help find new targets for early detection of pancreatic cancer.

The funding, from Cancer Research UK Early Detection Committee, will support investigation into the underlying mechanisms of early disease, with the aim of developing better diagnostic tools for the future.

Dr Catherine Hogan said: “Pancreatic cancer is a lethal disease with the worst prognosis of any cancer, and early detection is key to improving survival.

“Ninety percent of pancreatic cancers occur sporadically from cells carrying mutations in the cancer causing gene called KRAS. Our work has shown that cells with the mutated KRAS gene are often eliminated from the tissues due to protective mechanisms that keep the tissue healthy. This suggests that for a cancer to grow, the mutated KRAS cells must be able to evade being detected by these protective mechanisms.

“This funding will allow us to build on our current work and investigate whether having more mutations in KRAS mutated cells enables them to evade the protective mechanisms in the pancreas and initiate cancer development.”

The team aims to understand the behaviours of pancreatic cancer cells at the very early stages of cancer development, in order to identify biomarkers that could be used for early detection.

“Through this work, we aim to understand fundamental biological events that lead to early stages of pancreatic cancer.

“If we can understand this, we believe this will lead to early detection tests for the future, which will ultimately transform the way we diagnose pancreatic cancer,” added Dr Hogan.

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