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7 February 2013, 06:00 | Updated: 7 February 2013, 10:27
Stopping the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer is the focus of a new project led by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire and funded by the Association for International Cancer Research.
Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the UK, around 8,500 people were diagnosed in 2010. It is the form of cancer that killed actor Patrick Swayze in 2009.
It is an aggressive cancer that very few people survive from. Only around four per cent of pancreatic cancer patients survive for five years or more, making it one of the lowest survival rates.
It is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when the cancer has become very aggressive and it quickly spreads to other organs of the body. Currently there is no effective treatment for the disease at this advanced stage.
Dr Sharon Rossiter, principal investigator and medicinal chemist at the University of Hertfordshire’s Department of Pharmacy, to Heart: "We are investigating potential new drugs to block a protein called S100P which has been shown to be involved in the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer, as well as some other common cancers.
"We will be designing the new drugs using a computer model of the protein to identify novel compounds that will bind to the protein and prevent it from functioning. Once we have tested their effects on cancer cells, we will make changes to the compounds in the laboratory to improve their effectiveness at preventing cancer growth."
The aim of this new research project is to identify the best possible drug compounds which will hopefully eventually lead to a successful drug treatment for pancreatic cancer.
This research project is a collaboration between the University of Hertfordshire and Barts Cancer Institute, London. It marks the first funding award that the Association for International Cancer Research has made to researchers at the University of Hertfordshire.