The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund has invested £1.2 million into seven ambitious new projects to tackle some of the world’s deadliest cancer and for the first time one of these grants has been awarded to an Irish project, that of Dr Patrick Forde, at the Cork Cancer Research Centre, University College Cork.
Dr Forde’s project will evaluate whether targeted short intense electric pulses – which temporarily make tissue more porous – will increase the absorption of chemotherapy drugs in pancreatic tumours. This treatment has shown positive results when trialled with inoperable skin cancers. If similar results are seen with pancreatic cancer tissue, the team will develop the treatment further through the use of a minimally invasive ‘keyhole’ medical device developed at the Research Centre.
Speaking about the announcement of the grant which coincides with World Pancreatic Cancer Day – ( a collaboration between pancreatic cancer charities and organisations around the world to raise awareness of the cancer that has seen barely any improvement in survival rates for 40 years). Dr Forde said “I am delighted and extremely proud to have been chosen along with 6 other worthy projects as a recipient of this grant from the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. The grant will allow me to employee a researcher to work with me to develop a new pancreatic cancer treatment. Without this grant my research would not be able to continue, so I am extremely fortunate and proud to be the first Irish recipient of this grant.
Dr Forde a native of Glenville in Cork, has worked with the Cork Cancer Research Centre, funded by their national charity Breakthrough Cancer Research since 2008, he is a graduate of University College Cork and received his PHD in Molecular Biology from the National University of Ireland Galway.
This is the second year that PCRF has invested over £1 million in a single funding round, enabling innovative research that could lead to new treatments for this highly aggressive and complex cancer.
PCRF’s founder and CEO, Maggie Blanks, said: “This is an amazing achievement, and is thanks to the tireless fundraising of our supporters around the country who know that funding research is the only way to accelerate the development of new treatments and diagnostic tools that will improve patients’ chances of survival.” “Our grant applications grow in number and quality year on year and 2014 was no exception. We’ve funded the seven very best applications as advised by our eminent Scientific Advisory Panel and we’re excited to be supporting such world-leading research.”
The charity’s research spend now totals more than £5 million, supporting 34 world-leading projects at universities across the UK and Ireland. About pancreatic cancerEach year 500 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on the island of Ireland, and there are around the same number of deaths from the disease each year (National Cancer Registry) with 8,800 people in the UK. It is an extremely difficult cancer to diagnose and treat because it is unusually aggressive, symptoms are often vague and generally appear at an advanced stage of the disease. There is no early diagnostic test available. Just three out of every 100 people diagnosed will survive for five years or more - a figure that has barely improved in forty years.