Extensive mapping and analysis of 100 pancreatic tumour samples has revealed four key subgroups which could help best-possible treatment.
The research was conducted by an international collaboration of researchers from Australia and Scotland, and has been published in the prestigious journal Nature.
By collecting the complex genetic changes that occur within pancreatic cancer into four subgroups – ‘stable’, ‘locally rearranged’, ‘scattered’ and ‘unstable’ – the team have helped to pave the way towards more targeted and effective treatments.
In fact, an existing class of chemotherapy drugs (currently being used to treat some breast cancers) has been shown to also work on patients whose pancreatic cancers have the ‘unstable’ genomes.
“Two of them had an exceptional response, which happens very, very rarely in pancreatic cancer. Their tumours went away completely,” said the co-leader of the group, Andrew Biankin, who conducted the work at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
Professor Sean Grimmond from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) said, “Having access to these detailed genetic maps could help doctors in the future determine which chemotherapy drug a patient should get, based on their cancer’s genome.”
The team at IMB plan to begin a clinical trial in the UK, selecting patients for targeted treatments based on their genomic testing.