New clinical trial offers treatment hope for advanced pancreatic cancer patients

Posted on in Research, The trust

Pancreatic Cancer UK is encouraging people with advanced pancreatic cancer in Middlesbrough to find out more about a pioneering clinical trial at The James Cook University Hospital, which is offering a new combination of treatments which could ultimately allow patients to live for longer.

The new HALO 301 trial could offer patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread outside the pancreas, a potential new treatment option for a disease which currently has very few treatments.

The clinical trial on the Middlesbrough site aims to allow people with advanced pancreatic cancer with high levels of a substance called hyaluronan (HA), a group which makes up about 40 per cent of patients, to live for longer.

HA helps the pancreatic cancer tumour to grow. The patients on the trial will be treated with two existing chemotherapies, nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane®) and gemcitabine (Gemzar®), in combination with a new treatment called PEGPH20. This is an enzyme which breaks down HA. The hope is that this new combination treatment will slow tumour growth.

The earlier HALO 202 trial in America has already shown real promise. Results published in January 2017 showed that the combination of treatments significantly delayed tumour growth and disease progression in advanced patients with high levels of HA (1).  Fewer people receiving the combination treatment experienced blood clots in their veins, which is a common problem for pancreatic cancer patients.

Now the HALO 301 international trial is taking place in multiple locations across the UK, including James Cook where it is being led by Dr David Wilson.

“I am very happy and excited to be involved in this international trial in Middlesbrough,” he said.

“We are coming to understand more that pancreatic cancers are not all the same, but differ in their genetics and biochemistry. This trial offers us the opportunity to potentially exploit this understanding and offer at least some pancreatic cancer patients treatment that may be more targeted and potentially more successful for their particular type of pancreatic cancer.”

Anna Jewell, Director of Operations at Pancreatic Cancer UK, added: “Clinical trials for pancreatic cancer are always exciting, as new treatment options are urgently needed to allow patients to spend more precious time with their families, and this one shows real promise. We are encouraging patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in Middlesbrough to find out whether the HALO trial might be an option for them from their consultant, or by calling one of our nurses on our support line.”

“Patients and families can find out more about this and other clinical trials which may be available in the Middlesbrough area by looking at our online Trial Finder. They can also talk to our nurses to find out more about taking part in a trial and whether it would be right for them. We are absolutely determined to take on this tough cancer by ensuring that patients have access to new, effective treatments on the NHS to allow them to live longer and have a better quality of life.”

There are 372 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the North East (2).

Patients and families can find out more about the HALO trial at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/halo and people can call Pancreatic Cancer UK’s specialist nurses for more information on the charity’s Support Line, on freephone 0808 801 0707.