Diagram of the pancreas in the body

A team of IHMRI researchers and clinicians are studying a new drug delivery system to reduce cancer cells and improve the chances of life-saving surgery for patients

Despite advances in cancer screening, diagnosis and therapy, pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer in Australia.

It is a highly malignant disease with poor prognosis.

The most common treatment remains surgery but for more than 80% of patients this surgery can’t be carried out.

A team of IHMRI researchers and clinicians are undertaking a study to test a new way of administering chemotherapeutic drugs.

IHMRI Research Fellow and project lead Dr Kara Vine-Perrow is collaborating with oncologist Clinical Professor Morteza Aghmesheh from Wollongong Hospital, Dr Javad Foroughi from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, and supervising PhD candidates Samantha Wade and and Sepehr Talebian on the project.

By delivering two drugs to the target area researchers believe it could help reduce the tumour size to allow life-saving surgery (pancreaticoduodenectomy) on patients that were previously unable to.

“Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of any solid tumour. Surgical resection, the patient’s only hope for cure, offers a significantly improved prognosis. We believe the development of an implantable drug-eluting device, capable of delivering sustained, therapeutic concentrations of two chemotherapeutic drugs locally, will achieve tumour control and convert non-resectable cases to resectable (removal) cases to improve overall patient survival” said Dr Vine-Perrow.

Pancreatic cancer in Australia

  • About 2600 Australians are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year.
  • The average age at diagnosis is 72.
  • Cigarette smokers are 2–3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • About 15–20% of people with pancreatic cancer have newly diagnosed diabetes.
  • People with family history of pancreatic, ovarian or colon cancer are at greater risk of getting pancreatic cancer.

Cancer Council NSW

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