PemOla awarded grant on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

16 November 2023

We are thrilled to announce the PemOla clinical trial, led by Dr Daniel Croagh, has received a $297,548 grant from PanKind, the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.

This funding is announced on World Pancreatic Cancer Day as iconic structures and landmarks across the country are spectacularly lit purple to mark the day.

Pancreatic cancer is now a common cancer. Out of all major cancers, it has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers at only . This statistic drops to 6.8% for people who live in rural and regional Australia.

Originating at Cambridge University, the PemOla clinical trial aims to provide eligible pancreatic cancer patients with access to a combined immunotherapy treatment, potentially increasing their chance of surviving beyond five years.

Dr Daniel Croagh, Study Chair of PemOla in Australia, says that getting funding to allow those with pancreatic cancer to access this trial within Australia will not only give families hope, but potentially change the way pancreatic cancer patients receive treatment across the globe.

“Unfortunately, 80% of pancreatic cancer patients are ineligible for surgery, and of the 20% that can, they have an 80% recurrence rate. Patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer also have a poor prognosis of just six to 12 months, so there isn’t a lot of time to do clinical trials,” Dr Croagh explains.

“PemOla is a combination of two novel drugs – an immunotherapy drug and a PARP inhibitor – which when combined, synergise and enhance the impacts of one another. In order to advance treatments for patients, we need to get a better understanding of the cancer which a clinical trial like PemOla can give us.”

Clinical trials like PemOla are important to provide further treatment options for patients who have exhausted all available options.

“Only five-per-cent of metastatic pancreatic cancer patients are suitable for immunotherapy, but for that small group, this treatment can be life-changing and assist us in developing further treatments down the track. I’ve been involved with pancreatic cancer patients who have responded positively to immunotherapy and we’d love to see more patients access this type of treatment.”

As part of their 2023 grant round, PanKind awarded over $1.8 million in research funding to accelerate cutting-edge pancreatic cancer research. The investment will be shared between seven promising research projects, including PemOla, involving scientists from leading institutions around Australia, and will fund important projects in the areas of early detection and new treatments.

PanKind CEO, Michelle Stewart, said “we are extremely delighted to be supporting these world-class Australian project teams. They are progressing research into new and effective treatments which is key to improving patient outcomes.”

Michelle continued, “We also know that patients have more options available when their cancer is diagnosed earlier, providing the greatest chance of survival. Our focus on early detection continues with this funding, which will help develop new strategies to detect and diagnose the disease earlier. This is the largest single funding announcement from PanKind and we are only able to support these important projects thanks to our funding partners, community of donors and fundraisers, and to them we are incredibly grateful.”

Thank you to PanKind for awarding PemOla this vital funding. We look forward to bringing this important trial to Australians with pancreatic cancer and offering hope to them and their families.

Read more about PanKind’s grant round on their website