National effort to hasten treatments for those with pancreatic cancer enrolling patients at UF Health

Image courtesy of PanCANA novel clinical trial platform that aims to accelerate treatment discoveries for people battling pancreatic cancer is now enrolling patients at 15 sites nationwide, including the University of Florida Health Cancer Center.

An initiative of the national nonprofit organization Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or PanCAN, Precision PromiseSM began development in 2016. The UF Health Cancer Center is the only site in Florida participating in the novel clinical trial platform that hopes to ramp up treatments for patients with the aggressive form of cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., with an overall five-year survival rate of just 10%. Roughly 63% of patients die within the first year of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, underscoring the urgent need for new and more effective treatment options.

“A dedicated clinical trial with such innovation and flexibility, specifically for patients with pancreatic cancer, is long overdue,” said Thomas George, M.D., the study’s principal investigator at UF and associate director for clinical research at the UF Health Cancer Center. “We are thrilled to be able to offer this to the patients of Florida and the Southeast region of the U.S.”

Every pancreatic cancer treatment available today was approved through a clinical trial; however, standard trials are slow, costly and have only had a 10% success rate over the last 20 years. PanCAN’s novel clinical trial platform is designed to enable the development of new treatments more efficiently than standard pancreatic cancer trials by testing multiple experimental therapies at the same time, according to the organization’s website.

Through Precision Promise, metastatic pancreatic cancer patients may have the opportunity to receive both first- and second-line treatment options in one clinical trial. As a late-stage platform, the potential for new drug approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is built into the model, which can ramp up the drug development process by up to two years.

“I feel appreciative for the recognition that UF’s program is strong enough to contribute to this very sophisticated new approach in investigating new treatments for pancreatic cancer. It’s a great honor,” said Steven Hughes, M.D., UF Health’s chief of surgical oncology. “The real hope is that this will accelerate the pace of discovery.”

Precision Promise will investigate multiple treatment options, called substudies, under one clinical trial design. The substudies are designed so that eligible patients can shift to another option quickly among clinical trials.

The system will constantly evolve the treatment options by integrating current research and the most up-to-date science and knowledge available. Substudies can be added for newly discovered biomarkers and treatment approaches, so the field can learn which patients will most benefit from these new developments, and get new treatments to patients sooner.

“Pancreatic cancer patients don’t have time to wait for new treatments to be approved through the standard clinical trial model,” said Julie Fleshman, J.D., M.B.A., PanCAN’s president and CEO, in a recent press release.

Eligible pancreatic cancer patients are able to enroll in PanCAN’s Precision Promise at one of 15 clinical trial consortium sites nationwide. Sites were selected through a competitive, peer-review process and include:

  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles
  • Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/University of Washington in Seattle
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York
  • Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health in San Diego
  • Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
  • Perlmutter Cancer Center/NYU Langone Health in New York
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
  • UC San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco
  • University of Florida Health Cancer Center in Gainesville, Florida
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City

For more information about PanCAN and Precision Promise, visit the organization’s website.

Media contact: Ken Garcia at kdgarcia@ufl.edu or 352-273-9799.