£72,000 grant to University of Leicester Professor Jacqui Shaw for pancreatic cancer research project

University of Leicester Professor in study for early detection of disease

7-5-2013 — /europawire.eu/ — National charity Pancreatic Cancer UK has today announced the award of a £72,000 grant to Professor Jacqui Shaw and colleagues at the University of Leicester as part of the first round of its Research Innovation Fund. Six other grants, amounting to nearly £0.5 million, have also been awarded as part of this fund.

Professor Shaw, with colleagues Professor Manson, Dr Neal and Dr Martins (MRC),  is investigating whether multiplex deep sequencing of circulating free DNA can detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage.

The intention of the Research Innovation Fund is to spur creative and cutting edge ideas and approaches, including those successful in other areas of cancer, that have justifiable promise for the biology, treatment and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

It is envisioned the fund will make a real difference in an area where little has been made in the last forty years. Pancreatic cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK yet receives only 1% of the total research spend[1]. The disease has one of the worst survival rates of any cancer in the UK, with only under 4% of patients surviving five years or more.

Professor Shaw said: “All cancers carry mutations in the tumour cells and some of these occur at a very early stage, even before the primary tumour is fully developed. DNA from these transformed cells is shed into the bloodstream and can be purified from a small blood sample. The detection of circulating cancer markers in blood could provide a simple approach to earlier detection of pancreatic cancer, an idea we wish to test in this project.

“We will analyse blood samples from pancreatic cancer patients, patients with chronic pancreatitis, a known risk factor for pancreatic cancers, and healthy controls for mutations, which are known to be present in cancer-causing genes in pancreatic cancer. The results can provide a non-invasive “fingerprint” of what is happening in the target tissue, in this case the pancreas, and the hope is that such changes can be detected early enough to intervene to prevent progression of precancerous lesions, or allow the diagnosis and treatment of PDAC at a much earlier stage.”

Grants were approved by Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Scientific Advisory Board which has membership drawn from leading scientists from across the world. The six other grants of up £75,000 for one-year, were awarded to individuals hosted at institutions throughout the UK in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. The grant recipients and their collaborators are experts in a wide variety of disciplines including molecular and cellular biology, immunology, molecular physics and surgical oncology.

Clara Mackay, acting chief executive officer of Pancreatic Cancer UK, comments, “We  purposely launched our Research Innovation Fund to generate ideas for cutting-edge research into pancreatic cancer. We are delighted with the response from the research community and are confident that the seven new projects we are funding have potential to make an important contribution to the fight against this disease.”

Peter O’Hare, Chair of Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Scientific Advisory Board, comments, “We set out to stimulate interest within the research community and encourage researchers to look at the huge challenges presented by pancreatic cancer in new ways; drawing on the excellent work that has already been done in this area as well as other areas of cancer research. We received a large number of high quality applications which will only bode well for future rounds of this fund.”

The process behind this Pancreatic Cancer UK initiative and the research proposals received reflect strong collaborative working at many levels and provide a springboard for further expansion of pancreatic research in the future.

Pancreatic Cancer UK intend to launch the second round of the Research Innovation Fund in September/October 2013. To find out more about the fund, visit http://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/research/research-innovation-fund. The application process for this scheme is administered by Cancer Research UK.


Photograph of Professor Shaw available from er134@le.ac.uk

[1] Research spend of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) – representing the majority of cancer research investment undertaken in the UK

For further information contact:


Professor Jacqui Shaw

Professor of Translational Cancer Genetics

Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine

University of Leicester

Tel: +44 (0) 116 252 3148

E-mail: js39@le.ac.uk



Louise Ellis, Communications Manager, Pancreatic Cancer UK

020 7820 6709

07584 293 039

Note to editors:


About Pancreatic Cancer UK

Pancreatic Cancer UK is the only national charity fighting pancreatic cancer on all fronts: support, information, campaigning and research. We are striving for a long and good life for everyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk

  • We fund innovative research that makes the most impact with limited resources and leverages additional investment – and development of new talent – through our own research expenditure.
  • Working closely with patients and their families and carers, clinicians and other healthcare professionals, researchers, politicians and policy makers we seek to inrease awareness of the disease and campaign to bring about change.

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