$1.2m funding supports innovative strategies to improve pancreatic cancer treatment

Research into pancreatic cancer treatment has received a funding injection thanks to the latest round of NHMRC Ideas Grants.

Associate Professor Fred Hollande

Professor Frederic Hollande and his Tumour Heterogeneity in Metastatic Cancer group from the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research (UMCCR) will receive $1.2 million to implement their project: Developing novel therapeutic strategies and predictive biomarkers in Pancreatic Cancer.

The project aims to design personalised drug combinations and cellular barcoding that can track individual tumour cells and match pancreatic cancer patients with drugs that are likely to be most effective for their treatment.

It is promising research into a disease which is predicted to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death within the next 10-15 years. In stark contrast with other cancers, very little improvement has been made in pancreatic cancer patient outcomes and treatments options remain very limited, with a five-year survival rate still lower than 10 per cent.

“Recent developments in the molecular characterisation of this disease have led to the identification of multiple genetic alterations that contribute to driving pancreatic cancer,” Professor Hollande says.

“Our hope is that through the combination of rational design of personalised medication and the use of cellular barcoding and systems biology approaches, we can create therapeutics designed to target these alterations, which may significantly improve patient outcomes.”

Collaborators on the project include Professor Lachlan Coin who leads the Cancer Bioinformatics team at UMCCR. Professor Coin will use machine learning to develop predictive models of drug susceptibility based on genomics/transcriptomics data.