Cancer Research UK has invested £373k in to finding new ways to diagnose pancreatic cancer at an earlier stage.

The charity has given a Cardiff-based scientist, Dr Catherine Hogan, the sum after her research showed that cells with the mutated KRAS gene – something that 90% of pancreatic cancers carry - are often eliminated due to protective mechanisms that keep the tissue healthy.

The funding announcement coincides with the launch of Cancer Research UK’s “Right Now” campaign, which aims to show both the realities of the disease and the positive impact research and improved treatments can have on people’s lives.

Dr Hogan said that the “funding from Cancer Research UK will allow us to build on our current work and investigate whether having more mutations in KRAS mutated cells enables them to avoid the protective mechanisms in the pancreas and initiate cancer development.”

Through the work, the team says that it aims to understand the behaviours of pancreatic cancer cells at the very early stages of cancer development, in order to identify biological signs that could be used for early detection, as “If we can understand this, we believe this could lead to early detection tests for the future, ultimately transforming the way we diagnose pancreatic cancer,” added Dr Hogan.

Last month Sixth Element Capital and the Cancer Research UK (CR UK) Beatson Institute announced a multi-year agreement with Novartis to progress development of novel RAS inhibitors, discovered by the Institute’s Drug Discovery Unit, for hard to treat cancers such as pancreatic.

Further to the partnership, earlier this year Biodesix and Immodulon also inked a joint venture in to biomarker research the circulating proteome of advanced pancreatic cancer patients treated with IMM-101 using the Biodesix Diagnostic Cortex machine learning platform.