Pancreatic cancer: results from ACF affiliated VUB researcher published in “Nature Communications”
BRUSSELS - Leading scientific journal “Nature Communications” today published striking new results from the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) research programme of Professor Ilse Rooman and her team, on the development of pancreatic cancer. In addition to her fundamental research work at the VUB, Ilse Rooman is also a Programme Director at the Anticancer Fund, where her expertise is applied to developing clinical research into new treatment options for pancreatic cancer.
The impact of pancreatic cancer is often underestimated. In 2018, an estimated 138,000 will die of the disease, a similar figure to breast cancer. Pancreatic cancer is known as a fast and silent killer. It is often diagnosed very late because patients have innocuous symptoms at the early stages and there are no screening programs. Less than a fifth of patients are eligible for surgery, which provides the best chances of controlling the disease. Half of the patients who do have surgery will develop recurrent disease within a year, and at five years only 20% will be alive. For patients who cannot undergo surgery the outlook is even worse.
"There is a shortage of treatment options for pancreatic cancer. Because the disease is so aggressive and patients quickly die there is little room for clinical research. An additional obstacle is that this cancer has many forms and there is still too little understanding of exactly how the cancer develops," explains Ilse Rooman.
"The goal of the Anticancer Fund is to develop additional treatment options for cancer patients with the greatest unmet needs. Pancreatic cancer has been high on the list of priorities for our research fund for a number of years. However, applied research needs a strong foundation. We are very excited about the publication today of the VUB results from Ilse Rooman," according to Dr Guy Buyens, Medical Director at the Anticancer Fund.
In her work at the Anticancer Fund Professor Rooman oversees the clinical research programme in pancreatic cancer. Only 2% of European cancer research budgets are allocated to this hard to treat and deadly cancer. Funding from non-profit organisations such as the Anticancer Fund can help research in this disease move forwards. These efforts, together with advancing insights gained from fundamental research, will certainly boost progress in pancreatic cancer management in the future.
"The Anticancer Fund and the VUB found each other in the fight against pancreatic cancer" said Dr Buyens. "Fundamental research at a high level in parallel with clinical studies will eventually lead to better treatment options for patients.”