Scientist to spearhead research which could lead to new treatments for pancreatic cancer

Nottingham Trent University researcher, Dr Maria Hatziapostolou, has been awarded more than £74,000 by Pancreatic Cancer UK to lead research which could ultimately lead to new treatments for the disease.

Dr Maria Hatziapostolou
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Dr Maria Hatziapostolou has been awarded more than £74,000 to research new treatments for pancreatic cancer

Nottingham Trent University researcher, Dr Maria Hatziapostolou, has been awarded more than £74,000 by Pancreatic Cancer UK to lead innovative research, which could ultimately lead to new treatments for the disease. There are currently very few treatments for pancreatic cancer, and a shocking 5% of people survive for five years or more after diagnosis.

More than 170 people die from pancreatic cancer in Nottinghamshire on average every year, and survival rates for the disease have barely improved for the past 40 years. Despite this, over the last decade, only 1% of total UK cancer research spend has been dedicated to the disease.

Dr Hatziapostolou has discovered a specific gene that plays a significant role in the growth of pancreatic cancer tumours, resistance to treatment and spread of the disease to other organs. Over the next year, she and her team will be researching how this gene works, in the hope that this will lead to new treatments for pancreatic cancer in the future.

Dr Hatziapostolou, who is based in Nottingham Trent University's School of Science and Technology, said: “There is a desperate need for further research to allow us to learn more about the strengths, weaknesses and tactics of pancreatic cancer in the body. By understanding more about the disease's progression and its resistance to treatments, we ultimately will be able us to develop strategies of our own to defeat it.

“We're very pleased our research has been chosen for funding and that we'll be able to continue our work into the fundamental biology of pancreatic cancer.

“Current treatment options for pancreatic cancer are limited, and most patients diagnosed with the disease have a poor prognosis. This is an extremely promising area of investigation and if we're successful could lead to new options to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer”.

The grant has been awarded as part of Pancreatic Cancer UK's fourth annual Research Innovation Fund (RIF) grants scheme.

This year the charity has awarded more than £500,000 to seven pancreatic cancer researchers based in institutions throughout the UK.

The core aim of the Pancreatic Cancer UK Research Innovation Fund is to spur creative and cutting edge ideas and approaches in pancreatic cancer research, including those that have shown promise in other areas of cancer research.

Funding like this, which allows a researcher to investigate a new direction of research, may make all the difference in finding new pieces of the puzzle, leading to a better understanding of pancreatic cancer, and ultimately a better chance of patients being diagnosed earlier and living longer with the disease.

Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, Alex Ford, said she's thrilled the charity is able to back such innovative and promising research taking place in the UK to fight pancreatic cancer. To date, Pancreatic Cancer UK has invested more than £2 million in the scheme.

“Pancreatic cancer is a tough disease, which historically has been sidelined in terms of crucial research funding. We're so proud to be leading the way in tackling this by investing in world-leading research at the cutting edge of science, to uncover the breakthroughs we so desperately need to transform the future for people affected.

“We're extremely excited to be working with Dr Hatziapostolou and her team, and we are confident that this project has the potential to make an important contribution to our quest to take on pancreatic cancer together,” Mr. Ford said.

The announcement coincides with Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, a national campaign which runs throughout the month of November, which will see people in Nottingham coming together to spread the word about the disease..

For more information about Pancreatic Cancer UK or the Research Innovation Fund, visit the website.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Head of Communications, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email.

    About Nottingham Trent University:

    Nottingham Trent University's five-year strategic plan Creating the University of the Future has five main ambitions: Creating Opportunity, Valuing Ideas, Enriching Society, Connecting Globally and Empowering People.

    The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was awarded to Nottingham Trent University in November 2015.  It is the highest national honour for a UK university and recognises the institution’s world-class research. Pioneering projects to improve weapons and explosives detection in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula, and combat food fraud, led to the prestigious award.

    About Pancreatic Cancer UK:

    Pancreatic Cancer UK is taking on pancreatic cancer through research, support and campaigning to transform the future for people affected.

    • We provide expert, personalised support and information via our Support Line (Freephone 0808 801 0707) and through a range of publications.
    • We fund innovative research to find the breakthroughs that will change how we understand, diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer.
    • We campaign for change; for better care, treatment and research, and for pancreatic cancer to have the recognition it needs.

    About pancreatic cancer

    • The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer stands at 5% in the UK.
    • Source: The 5% five year survival rate for the UK takes into consideration five year survival for all of the four nations. Wales is 4.8% at 5 years. Source: Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales. Scotland is 3.8% at 5 years. Source: ISD Scotland. Northern Ireland is 5% at five years. Source: Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. England is 5.4% at five years. Source: ONS.
    • Five and 10 year survival for pancreatic cancer has improved very little since the early 1970s.
    • One person dies of pancreatic cancer every hour.
    • 80% of people with pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage.
    • Surgery is the only treatment which could save lives, yet only 8% of people with pancreatic cancer have it.
    • Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the 21 common cancers, with just 1% of patients surviving 10 years after diagnosis.
    • Around 9,400 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer per year in the UK. That's 26 people every day.
    • Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK.
    • Pancreatic cancer is predicted to become the fourth largest cancer killer (overtaking breast cancer) by 2030.

    Source: Cancer Research UK

    Pancreatic cancer research has historically been underfunded, over the last decade it has only received 1% of the cancer research budget.

    Source: This is an average of pancreatic cancer site-specific spend from the total NCRI budget from 2006-2015, which is 0.94%.

    About Dr Maria Hatziapostolou:
    Dr Hatziapostolou is a dedicated cancer researcher whose work has been cited many times by researchers across the world, highlighted in top-tier scientific journals and recognised by the top research labs in the field of cancer.

    For further information and to find out more about Pancreatic Cancer UK, contact: Sarah Baird, Media Officer at Pancreatic Cancer UK, on 020 3780 7762, 07469 660 633 out of hours, or email.

Scientist to spearhead research which could lead to new treatments for pancreatic cancer

Published on 4 November 2016
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Science and Technology

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