Hudson researchers receive collaboration grant from PanKind to expand targeted screening for pancreatic cancer

Hudson Institute

Hudson Institute researchers Dr Daniel Croagh and Professor Brendan Jenkins have received a share of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation’s (PanKind) 2020 Collaborative Research Grant to help accelerate the uptake of precision medicine in pancreatic cancer using endoscopic ultrasound biopsy.

The project was one of four highly promising pancreatic collaborative research projects involving scientists from leading institutions around Australia, and will form a companion study to the new national clinical trial program MoST-P, which aims to test promising new targeted therapies for pancreatic cancer.

The grant of $298, 811 will be used to expand the use of endoscopic ultrasound biopsy – a technique currently only used to confirm the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer – to allow for comprehensive molecular profiling of the cancer and thus identify any vulnerabilities (such as mutated “driver” genes) in the cancer that may be targetable with chemotherapy.

This new nationwide collaborative project aims to expand this program from a local project to a nationwide program potentially offering genetic profiling to virtually all patients across Australia.

What is endoscopic ultrasound biopsy?

Endoscopic ultrasound biopsy is a minimally invasive alternative to explorative surgery which allows a doctor to sample (biopsy) fluid and tissue from pancreas (or liver) for analysis by inserting a camera into the stomach.

It is a common method of diagnosing pancreatic cancer, and can be used to help determine more targeted treatments.

Research has shown that at least 1 in 4 patients carry a particular genomic feature (eg; mutated gene) that makes them a potential candidate for a life-prolonging targeted therapy. However, the genomic sequencing used to identify these patients is not part of routine care and is not funded by Medicare.

Professor Jenkins says the inability to operate on late-stage pancreatic cancer patients means that many are being denied access to comprehensive profiling and targeted treatments which could significantly increase their life expectancy.

“Most patients with pancreatic cancer present with metastatic disease, and have an expected survival of less than 12 months. This clinical study will show the direct impact of the broad availability of these genetic tests on changing the treatment of patients, with the potential to prolong their survival,” he says.

Dr Daniel Croagh and Professor Brendan Jenkins at Hudson Institute

Accelerating the uptake of precision medicine in pancreatic cancer using endoscopic ultrasound biopsy.

Dr Daniel Croagh

Accelerating the uptake of precision medicine in pancreatic cancer using endoscopic ultrasound biopsy. Most patients with pancreatic cancer present with metastatic disease and have an expected survival of less than 12 months. Research has shown that at least 1 in 3 patients have carry a particular genomic feature that makes them a potential candidate for a life-prolonging targeted therapy. However, the genomic sequencing used to identify these patients is not part of routine care and is not funded by Medicare. A national program and model of care aimed at giving patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the opportunity to have their cancer undergo these genetic tests is currently underway. Unfortunately, it excludes many patients who only have routine endoscopic biopsy tissue available, as this tissue is often inadequate for comprehensive genetic testing. This new nationwide collaborative project aims to remedy this deficiency and offer genetic profiling to virtually all patients with pancreatic cancer, by incorporating the use of fresh frozen endoscopic biopsy material to optimise tissue quality. This clinical study will show the direct impact of the broad availability of these tests on changing the treatment of patients, with the potential to prolong their survival.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.