Five new cutting edge projects worth just over £1 million have been funded by PCRF. The five projects started in 2023 and the majority run for three years. Since PCRF was founded, the charity has funded 73 research project worth £15.6 million, thanks to the dedicated fundraising of PCRF supporters.
Dr Jun Ishihara, Imperial College London – award £220,000, duration 2 years
Dr Ishihara has developed a unique new drug compound that can be used alongside immunotherapy drugs to target pancreatic cancer, activating specific immune cells called T-cells within the tumour. Tests on mice show that the new drug allows the immunotherapy to be more successful, and with fewer side effects. He believes the drug has potential to be personalised to individual patients’ tumours. This grant will allow him to develop this potential new treatment further.
Professor Michael Schmid, University of Liverpool – award £217,000, duration 3 years
Pancreatic cancer often spreads to the liver and can take hold more easily because the immune system does not detect and kill the cancer cells. Professor Schmid has identified a protein that is found at unusually high levels in liver tumours of pancreatic cancer patients. In animal tests, blocking this protein slowed the pace of the tumour’s growth in the liver, so Prof Schmid aims to identify the best way to suppress this protein in pancreatic cancer patients to improve survival.
Professor Alan Parker, Cardiff University – award £220,000, duration 3 years
‘Oncolytic viruses’ are viruses that are engineered to infect and kill cancer cells and have the potential to treat many different cancers, including pancreatic. Professor Parker will use the latest specialised methods to test a new oncolytic virus his team has engineered to specifically infect pancreatic cancer cells. The infected cells are forced to produce anti-cancer medicines, attracting immune cells, and instructing them to recognise and destroy other cancer cells in the body.
Dr Kevin Litchfield, UCL Cancer Institute – award £219,000, duration 3 years
Our immune system is primed to attack cancer cells as soon as they are detected. Dr Litchfield aims to develop a blood test which measures three different aspects of our body’s immune response to early stage pancreatic cancer. He believes this new approach could produce results that are more accurate and sensitive than other early detection tests currently being developed.
Professor Peter McCormick, University of Liverpool – award £219,000, duration 3 years
Histamine is a natural compound released by special immune cells in our bodies in response to germs or bacteria that could cause disease. Professor McCormick will investigate the role of histamine in helping pancreatic cancer to grow. He will also investigate whether antihistamine drugs, such as those that treat hay fever, could be repurposed as a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.
See more details on the projects here.