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Strabane manís central role in bid to further revolutionise pancreatic cancer treatment

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Strabane manís central role in bid to further revolutionise pancreatic cancer treatment thumbnailProfessor John Callan, who hails from Strabane, is leading new research at the Ulster University which could revolutionise pancreatic treatment options.

A SCIENTIST who hails from the town is leading the global battle against pancreatic cancer due to his involvement in an innovative new research project that could deliver improved treatment options for patients.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths globally and has the worst survival statistics of the twenty-one most common forms of cancer, with only three per cent of patients surviving five or more years after their initial diagnosis.

While other forms of cancer have seen survival rates improve significantly over the past four decades, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer has remained unchanged.

Last year, Ulster University scientists, including Laurel Drive man John Callan, identified a new therapy that can selectively target pancreatic cancer tumours using microbubble technology combined with harmless sound waves. This novel combined therapy was found to spare healthy tissue and reduce the side effects of conventional treatment, as well as deliver improved reductions in the size of the most common pancreatic tumour known as Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

Now, a new Ulster University study, in partnership with the University of Oxford and funded with £180,000 from the national charity Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF), will investigate if the microbubble technology can provide a similar boost alongside traditional radiotherapy treatments.

"It is well known that oxygen levels in pancreatic tumours are extremely low and certain cancer treatments require a good supply of oxygen to be effective.

"Last year, we demonstrated that by combining our microbubble technology with ultrasound we can help deliver oxygen to pancreatic tumours and help improve oxygen levels in the tumour," Professor Callan explained,

"This latest strand of research will look specifically at radiotherapy, a treatment used by almost half a million people undergoing cancer treatment annually. It is a very effective way of controlling symptoms but it is limited by poor oxygen supply.

"By examining our microbubble technology in combination with radiotherapy, we hope to improve its effect on pancreatic cancer.

"We are really grateful to PCRF for supporting this study which we hope can make a real difference to pancreatic cancer patients in the future."

Maggie Blanks, chief executive officer of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, said the research could be a huge break-through for patients.

“Because every penny of our funding is donated by supporters who know how devastating pancreatic cancer is, it's our priority to fund the most innovative research that could offer significant benefits to patients.

"This project is a great example of that strategy and we look forward to hearing the results," she added.

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