Early Diagnosis Research

Despite being the 5th most common cause of cancer deaths, pancreatic cancer receives only 1% of overall research funding in the UK.

Approximately 8,000 people are diagnosed and then die each year from pancreatic cancer. The key to improving these awful survival statistics is through funding early diagnosis research.

Nicki’s Smile has raised over £500,000 since its launch in 2011. All monies raised via Nicki’s Smile are ring-fenced by Pancreatic Cancer UK to fund early diagnosis research.

First research project

Nicki’s Smile has already funded a pioneering early diagnosis research project, led by Professor David Tuveson’s specialist team in Coldspring Harbour, Long Island, New York. Nicki’s Smile provided his team with a grant of £125,000 in 2012 in order to fund a specific pancreatic cancer early diagnosis research project. The aim of the study is to identify pancreatic cancer biomarkers (indicators that can help diagnose cancer in its embryonic stages) in the hope they can be used to improve early diagnosis.

The team has already identified potential biomarkers in ductal adenocarcinomas (the common form of pancreatic cancer) and they are now working to identify neuroendocrine pancreatic tumour biomarkers (the rare form of pancreatic cancer that Nicki was diagnosed with).

Second research project

Linked to their first project, Nicki’s Smile has funded a second early diagnosis research project, led by Professor Steve Pereira’s team based in University College London with additional team members based at the Royal Free Hospital, London and the University of Liverpool. Nicki’s Smile provided a grant of £150,000.

This new study aims to provide primary care physicians with a rapid diagnostic pathway for patients with pancreatic cancer by implementing early detection tests in symptomatic, ‘at-risk’ patients. This will be achieved by validating promising early biomarkers in pre-diagnosis blood samples for a screening or diagnostic test, refining and ratifying an early symptoms tool to identify individuals ‘at-risk’ of pancreatic cancer, and trialing the rapid diagnostic pathway within the North London Cancer Network.

It will also test promising candidate biomarkers specifically for the detection of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PNETs), using newly collected patient samples and those collected from women prior to their diagnosis.

The partnership with Pancreatic Cancer UK ensures that every penny of donation income received by Nicki’s Smile funds pioneering early diagnosis research.

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