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Professor Marco Falasca

Prof Marco Falasca 

Research Institution: Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science - Barts & The London

Award: £124,125  Duration: 36 months

Project Title: ABC transporters autocrine loop inhibition to treat pancreatic cancer  

Project Aims: Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer usually occurs when the disease is advanced and often treatment is ineffective because the cancer can be resistant to both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. To address this, researchers are looking for biomarkers that signify the development of pancreatic cancer which could then be used for diagnostic tests and targets for new, more active drugs.

A family of molecules called ‘ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters’ are already known to be important for chemotherapy resistance in a number of cancers, including pancreatic cancer. However, Professor Falasca believes ABC molecules play a more active role in the progression of pancreatic cancer. His team recently discovered that a particular ABC molecule is involved in a process by which cancer cells stimulate their own growth. With funding from PCRF, Prof. Falasca will study drugs that inhibit this molecule, stopping cancer growth.

His team’s work will focus on two drugs against the ABC molecule which were chosen because they are already used clinically to treat non-cancer diseases. If positive results are seen using animal models then a novel therapy may develop rapidly because they have already been rigorously tested in clinical trials. He hopes this will broaden the therapy options available to pancreatic cancer patients in the future.