Queensland researchers have sequenced the genes of more than 500 pancreatic cancer sufferers, which could see new tailored treatments in five years.
A common and aggressive cancer could be diagnosed and treated earlier thanks to the DNA findings of Queensland researchers.
Pancreatic cancer is the state’s fifth most common cancer causing death but new tailored treatment programs may be only five years away.
Less than five per cent of people survive a cancer of the organ, which creates insulin and digestive enzymes and controls blood sugar levels.
Most die within a year, with veteran Nine Network television journalist Peter Harvey last year losing a five-month battle with the disease.
Professor Sean Grimmond and his research team at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience have sequenced the genes of more than 500 pancreatic cancer sufferers.
This was part of an international effort to map the genes of 25,000 patients suffering from the 50 most common cancers.
The discoveries may lead to new individually tailored treatment programs.
“I would be very surprised if this was not a standard part of cancer treatment within five years,” Professor Grimmond told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.
“A lot of the traditional approaches have trained one drug to treat one disease (which) just have not worked.”
He said the next challenge was finding weaknesses in the cancer.
“The next big challenge for us in early diagnosis is how do we turn this technology now to find those Achilles heels of tumours,” he said.
Survival rates for pancreatic cancer have barely improved during the past 40 years unlike breast cancer, where survival rates have improved during the past two decades.
“Quite often, they’re diagnosed at an advanced stage so for that reason we haven’t seen a lot being done,” Professor Grimmond said.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Science Minister Ian Walker and the Cancer Council of Queensland were present for the announcement.