Locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a median overall survival of 9-13 months due to a lack of response to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and the non-resectable nature of the disease. There has been little improvement in the prognosis of PDAC cases in the past three decades, highlighting the crucial need for more effective therapeutic approaches. Clinical trial results indicate that the chemotherapeutic drugs

GEMZAR (gemcitabine) and Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) act synergistically to moderately extend the life of PDAC patients however, systemic toxicity is still problematic. Drug delivery depots that achieve high therapeutic concentrations of chemotherapy at the tumour site represent a promising treatment approach. However, all have used invasive surgical procedures for implantation to date and few have been approved for clinical use.

This multidisciplinary project will develop a degradable dual-drug eluting polymeric structure that is suitable for intralesional implantation using an innovative and non-invasive endoscopic procedure, endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle injection (EUS-FNI).

Our team is at the forefront of polymeric scaffold development for tissue engineering and implantable drug delivery applications. To ensure rapid translation of our findings to patients we have

(i) created a novel drug delivery platform from all FDA-approved materials,

(ii) will assess safety and efficacy in clinically relevant PDAC mouse models and

(iii) assess therapeutic dn,ig concentrations in a porcine EUS-FNI model.

We hypothesize that our drug delivery system, capable of delivering a combination of gemcitabine and paclitaxel, will achieve tumour control and convert non-resectable pancreatic cancer cases to resectable cases. Since surgical resection remains the only potential curative therapy for PDAC we expect that with further development our technology will make significant contributions to the overall survival of PDAC patients in the future.

Funding body

Cancer Australia / Pancare Foundation 

Scheme name

Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme

Years funded

2018 – 2020

Lead institution

University of Wollongong

Research area