Prof Andrew Biankin

TARGETED TREATMENT FOR PANCREATIC CANCER

Prof. Andrew Biankin is the Regius Chair of Surgery and Director of the Translational Research Centre, University of Glasgow.

RESEARCH SUCCESS

Andrew is a surgeon scientist who received his first Cure Cancer grant in 2006 for his research into how pancreatic cancer develops and progresses.

This aggressive cancer progresses silently within the pancreas for many years, with patients only becoming aware of the disease when it is already in its late stages. Despite heartfelt efforts by researchers and medical practitioners, pancreatic cancer still has the lowest five-year survival rate of any cancer.

One of the challenges pancreatic cancer presents is that it comes in many forms, with each responding in different ways to therapy.

To address this, Andrew helped set up the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (AGPI) in 2009 which has become a global research enterprise of over 100 scientists, clinicians and allied health professionals involved in pancreatic cancer research and care The APGI has mapped the genome of pancreatic cancer in a landmark effort as part of Australia’s contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). Andrew, as a world leader in pancreatic cancer is a significant contributor to the International Cancer Genome Consortium.

FOUR KEY SUBTYPES

From the ICGC data, Andrew’s team have been able to identify four key subtypes of pancreatic cancer – each with its own characteristics and differentiated survival outcomes.

“The four subtypes that we have identified represent a reclassification of the disease and as such should provide a basis to offer new insights into personalised therapeutic options for individual patients, and a launch pad to investigate new treatments,” he says.

One of these subtypes is the immunogenic subtype, a form that could be responsive to types of immunotherapeutic cancer treatments.

INNOVATIVE SCIENCE

Andrew says that Cure Cancer funding was crucial at the start of his career. “Cure Cancer was instrumental in kick-starting my research career. The concept of giving young researchers an opportunity to develop their ideas fosters innovative science that is competitive in today’s environment.”

Since receiving his initial Cure Cancer grants, Andrew has gone on to secure over $150 million in research funding. His team aim to change the clinical landscape for pancreatic and all other cancers by understanding the genetic defects that drive the disease, and offering a more targeted approach to treatment.

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