CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. and LONDON, April 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Focused Ultrasound Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer UK have partnered to advance the development of focused ultrasound therapy as a potential treatment for pancreatic cancer. In the first project funded through the partnership, a multidisciplinary team at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London will study how focused ultrasound may improve the local delivery of specially engineered viruses that target pancreatic cancer cells.
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of the 20 most common cancers. In the UK, less than seven percent of people with pancreatic cancer will survive beyond five years, and currently less than 1.3 percent of cancer research funding is directed toward pancreatic cancer.
Since its establishment in 2003, Pancreatic Cancer UK has been dedicated to supporting all those affected by the disease, in part by funding innovative research to find the breakthroughs that will change how we understand, diagnose, and treat pancreatic cancer.
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Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, noninvasive therapeutic technology that has been used, employing several different approaches, to address pancreatic cancer. Clinical studies in Europe and Asia suggest that focused ultrasound treatment of pancreatic tumors relieves pancreatic cancer-related pain and can ablate malignant tissue. Two clinical focused ultrasound devices have also earned regulatory approval in parts of Europe and Asia to treat pancreatic tumors. Additional evidence suggests that focused ultrasound – with or without immunotherapeutics – can elicit an immune response to help the body fight the disease. But more research is needed.
The first project to be funded under this new partnership – and part of the Pancreatic Cancer UK's Research Innovation Fund – aims to build upon the current body of knowledge.
A multidisciplinary team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London has designed and built a clinical ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound system and was the first to use this technique on cancer patients in clinical trials. Now, they plan to translate this expertise to pancreatic cancer in a preclinical model. They will study how focused ultrasound may improve the local delivery of specially engineered viruses that target pancreatic cancer cells.
Professor Gail ter Haar, head of the Therapy Ultrasound team in the ICR's Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging, will lead the study. Collaborating on the project is Dr. Petros Mouratidis, a postdoctoral researcher who, under the guidance of Prof. ter Haar, has been investigating the biological and immunological effects of therapeutic ultrasound in preclinical colorectal and pancreatic cancer models for the past five years.