£2.17 million in funding for pancreatic cancer

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Scientists in Liverpool have been awarded a grant of £2.17m from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) for research into early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The research, beginning next year, will focus on the role of diabetes in the disease. This is significant because around half of people with pancreatic cancer develop diabetes before their diagnosis.

There is currently no sure way of telling if this diabetes is due to pancreatic cancer or instead, is type 2 diabetes. At present, around 1 in 100 people with type 2 diabetes have this because of underlying and undiagnosed pancreatic cancer. This means that patients with new onset diabetes are a high risk group for pancreatic cancer and their chances of being diagnosed with the disease later on are greater.

Pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate which has barely improved in fifty years and the disease is often diagnosed too late for surgery, which is the only chance for a cure.

Pancreatic Cancer Action’s mission is to fight for early diagnosis so more people survive the disease. We have funded research into the link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer in the past as part of our Early Diagnosis Challenge Award. The lead investigator for this project, Professor Eithne Costello, reports that our funding helped to pave the way for this new research. She explains;

About the research

The researchers will collect blood samples from people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and look for differences in molecules in the blood (known as biomarkers) between those who later develop pancreatic cancer and those who do not. These biomarkers could help to develop a blood test for patients with new diabetes to see who might benefit from further cancer tests. It could be the start of a way to screen patients with diabetes for pancreatic cancer, a disease for which there is currently no screening test.”

Ali Stunt, Founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Actions says, “It is really exciting to hear that a substantial (£2.17million) CRUK grant has been awarded to Professor Costello and Colleagues at Liverpool University to study the relationship between diabetes and pancreatic cancer in the hope some patients can be diagnosed early.

What is so heartening is that the funding given to Professor Costello from Pancreatic Cancer Action for the PANDIA project, as part of our Early Diagnosis Challenge Awards programme in 2016, has provided a springboard upon which further research in a bigger study can be conducted.

As a small charity with limited funds, this is one of the ways Pancreatic Cancer Action makes an impact into improving early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in the hope that more will survive longer.”

To find out more about the early diagnosis research we fund and what we do, click here.