The PAGoDA trial has been set up to study the effect of a treatment on advanced cancers and will be conducted through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network, supported by Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Departments. Led by the Manchester ECMC and sponsored by the University of Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit, the trial will span four sites across the UK, with the first patients expected to start treatment in early June.
The study will use PLX7486 to target Trk kinases, which are believed to help cancer cells invade nerves. The sponsors hope that PLX7486, in combination with the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine, could improve progression-free survival and reduce pain for pancreatic cancer patients.
Upon determination of safe dosage, investigators will assess if the combination is able to control pain for patients as well as effectivity on tumor growth. The study team seeks to determine from the biopsies of a subset of patients, insights on how the drugs affect the development of both nerves and the tumors themselves.
Dr. Natalie Cook, Principal Investigator noted “there is still a lack of options for pancreatic cancer patients and survival remains stubbornly low. Some patients experience pain that is very difficult to control, and we know that these patients tend to do worse than those with controlled symptoms.”
She continued “Preclinical models shows that giving this drug combination seems effective at stopping the cancer cells growing and multiplying. Hopefully, this will translate into clinical benefits and enable us to better control the pain and spread of cancer in patients.”
Cancer UK Involvement
Cancer UK is committed to funding more research into hard to treat cancers such as pancreatic cancer. Only 1% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more, and the treatments currently available cause significant pain as a side-effect.
Dr. Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical research noted: “Through our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre network, this trial will bring together doctors and researchers to get the most comprehensive picture of how a new treatment combination targets pancreatic cancer. Close collaboration like this enables translational research-progressing new drugs from the lab to improving the lives of patients in the clinic.”
The world’s largest independent cancer research charity, in the UK and the Isle of Man, it was formed in 2002 by the merger of the Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Its aim is to reduce the deaths from cancer. Cancer Research UK’s work is almost entirely funded by the public. It raises money through donations, legacies, community fundraising, retail corporate partnerships. Over 40,000 people are regular volunteers.
Cancer Research UK spent £433 million on clinical research; £104 on underlying biology of cancer; and they have enrolled 12,000 patients in clinical research according to their 2017/18 Annual Report.
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network
The network was launched in 2007 through a joint investment from Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research in England, and the Health Departments for Scotland, Wales and North Ireland. Since then, more than £70 million of ECMC funding has been supporting staff members across the UK.
The ECMC Network is made up of 18 adult centers and 11 pediatric locations. Each has unique capabilities, with world-leading expertise, yet it is collaboration that gives the Network the edge in research excellence.
According to its Annual Report, it has allocated £35 million for clinical trials from 2017-2022 while they have served 5,000 patients in clinical trials; 150 industry partners, 18 adult centers and 11 pediatric locations.