BRUSSELS - The first patient entered the STEREOPAC trial, in Belgium. The trial is testing a novel strategy in the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. The Anticancer Fund and the Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research co-funded this unique trial to address the lack of treatment options for people with pancreatic cancer.
STEREOPAC is a phase 2 study that investigates a novel strategy in the treatment of patients with a specific type of pancreatic cancer: borderline resectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This is a very aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. A total of 256 patients will be included in over 10 Belgian hospitals.
Why this trial is important
Today, surgery is the only treatment offering a chance for a cure for patients that have a pancreatic tumor. However, less than 20% of patients have a tumor that can be removed by surgery, and about 50% have a tumor that can potentially be removed by surgery. But even when surgery is possible, only 20% of patients with pancreatic cancer are still alive five years after treatment, calling for improvements in the type and modalities of intervention on this cancer.
New research has shown that a combination of chemo- and radiotherapy before surgery can have positive results in patients with borderline resectable disease. In line with this, the STEREOPAC trial investigates this new way of combining treatment in patients with borderline resectable pancreatic cancer: standard chemotherapy and high dose radiation therapy before surgery. Specifically, the study aims to improve the chances of success of the surgery and lengthen the time the patients survive without any signs or symptoms of the disease.
This study is the only one in Europe using this approach, while in other parts of the world different kinds of radiotherapy and other cancer types are being examined. The leading investigator of the trial is Prof. Dr. Jean-Luc Van Laethem, Erasmus Hospital – ULB, Brussels, Belgium.
“Pancreatic cancer patients deserve as many chances as patients with more common, and often less aggressive cancers. Hence financial support for those researchers who have a good chance to improve pancreatic cancer patients’ outcomes, is a must. This collaboration top-notch project can change clinical practice,” said Ilse Rooman, director of the pancreatic program at the Anticancer Fund.
The funding of this trial is a collaborative effort
To fund this trial, the Anticancer Fund joined forces with the Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research, and received support by the Maaike Lars Trees Fund, the Anhaive Cancer Fund, and the Drieghe-Miller Fund, three medical research funds managed by the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF) in Belgium.
The King Baudouin Foundation manages a portfolio of over 100 health research-oriented funds. Oncology research is an important component within that portfolio. They are a rather a small actor in this field but evolved towards a position of trusted convener – a forum for stakeholder dialogue and actors of change. The King Baudouin Foundation wants to further explore this role and continue to support strategic collaborations. Their ambition is to support strategically chosen endeavors with the intention to put patient value at the center of cancer research. Together with all actors involved in cancer research, and with the patients and caregivers, the King Baudouin Foundation supports transdisciplinary research on patient value contributing towards a new cancer research culture.
This trial is the result of a call for projects
The trial was selected out of many projects we have received for the Request for Applications in Pancreatic and Biliary Tract Cancer, organized by the Anticancer Fund and the Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research in 2022.
“This project is the result of a strong collaboration, and a great example of two like-minded organizations joining forces to achieve more,” commented Rising Tide CEO, Wendelin Zellmayer.