Increased investment into Early Detection

Wednesday, February 2, 2022
2021 Early Detection Innovation Grant recipients (L to R) Prof Marco Falasca, Prof Claudine Bonder, Dr Chamini Perera, (Bottom) Prof John Rasko and Prof Anubhav Mittal.

PanKind, The Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation today announces the 2021 Early Detection Innovation Grant recipientswho share a further $500,000 in funding for projects that focus on the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Since launching the PanKind Early Detection Initiative in 2021, PanKind has now committed $1 million to projects that aim to detect pancreatic cancer earlier.

The funding will be shared between five highly promising and innovative projects involving scientists from leading institutions around Australia. The purpose of these grants is to encourage new research strategies to detect and diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier which will provide the greatest chance of survival.

The Early Detection Innovation Grants have been awarded to teams led by Prof Claudine Bonder from the Centre for Cancer Biology, Adelaide; Prof Marco Falasca from Curtin University, Perth; Dr Chamini Perera from UNSW, Prof John Rasko and Prof Anubhav Mittal, both from The University of Sydney. A comprehensive list of talented collaborators will form the research teams on each project.

PanKind CEO, Michelle Stewart, said "we hope that this significant investment into new strategies to detect pancreatic cancer will give us greater insights about how to identify this disease earlier and will make survival more likely in the future. We can only fund this important initiative with the support of our community of donors and fundraisers and to them we are incredibly grateful.”

We would like to thank our scientific advisory panel who provided a multi-disciplinary, global perspective and assessed the applications from a very high-quality field against predetermined assessment criteria.

2021 Early Detection Innovation Grant recipients:

Project: Advancing a novel ‘early detection' biomarker for PDAC
Principal Investigator: Prof Claudine Bonder, Centre for Cancer Biology.
This collaborative project between Profs. Bonder (Centre for Cancer Biology), Mahoney (Thomas Jefferson University) and Barreto (Flinders Medical Centre) tests an innovative concept that pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients can be identified via a new liquid biopsy biomarker. If successful, results here could pave the way for a simple blood test to identify early-stage disease for earlier intervention in even the most remote parts of Australia.

Read the project details

Project: Can the molecules carried by exosomes help to diagnose pancreatic cancer early?
Principal Investigator: Prof Marco Falasca, Curtin University
Tiny cancer ‘bubbles’, called exosomes, are used by cancer cells to communicate and aid in cancer progression. Exosomes from tumour cells discovered in blood and other body fluids have crucial roles in cancer development because they carry pro-tumoral molecules known to cause cancer development. The Project Team aim to identify molecules transported by exosomes unique to pancreatic cancer and use them as markers to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stage.

Read the project details

Project: Deciphering the Exosomal RNA Cargo in Pancreatic Cancer-related diabetes using Transcriptmonics
Principal Investigator: Dr Chamini Perera, University of New South Wales
Diabetes is associated with pancreatic cancer and over one in three patients report a history of recent-onset diabetes termed pancreatic cancer-related diabetes, PCRD). This suggests that PCRD may be a harbinger of pancreatic cancer.  Given the significant role of RNAs in diabetes and pancreatic cancer, the project team aims to identify potential biomarkers through characterising the exosomal RNA cargo. They will investigate whether these biomarkers can help detect pancreatic cancer earlier for people with PCRD.

Read the project details

Project: Early Detection and Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer using Circulating Tumour Cells
Principal Investigator: Prof John Rasko, The University of Sydney
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that can be detected in a patient’s blood. The Project Team aims to establish CTCs as a complementary diagnostic and screening tool that can assist in guiding early intervention, thereby resulting in increased survival rates in pancreatic cancer patients.

Read the project details

Project:  Development of Biomarker Tests for Early Detection/Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
Principal Investigator: Prof Anubhav Mittal, The University of Sydney
There is an urgent need to identify inexpensive and selective early detection biomarkers. The project team has access to specimens (urine and blood) from early diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients who were candidates for surgery, which provides them with an opportunity to identify biomarker signatures for early detection/diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Read the project details