We often don't even realize that we have a pancreas. Until something is wrong with it. The pancreas is responsible for producing substances that are important for digestion. Think of enzymes for digesting fat and hormones that are important in keeping the sugar level in the blood in balance.
Pancreatic cancer is fairly common. About 3,000 people are diagnosed each year; most of them are over sixty. Men get pancreatic cancer slightly more often than women. The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not known. There are a number of triggers that increase the risk of this disease. Smoking, overweight, alcohol consumption and chronic inflammation of the pancreas can contribute to the development of a tumour. There is a hereditary predisposition in about one in ten pancreatic cancer patients. Over the past thirty years, many cancers have seen progress in terms of survival rates. Unfortunately, this does not yet apply to pancreatic cancer. Of the 100 people who receive the diagnosis, an average of five are still alive after five years.
Research supported by donations to Tour de Pancreas
The use of viruses is a promising new technique for treating a wide variety of tumours. Viruses introduced into the patient selectively infect only the cancer cells and are thus able to spare the surrounding healthy cells. To make the viruses even more effective, they are modified in the laboratory in such a way that they can attack specific types of tumor cells. After the infection of the cancer cells, they are able to produce certain substances that destroy the cancer cells.
Advanced research into this treatment method is already underway for a number of cancer types. Thanks to the support of Support Casper, research for pancreatic cancer has also been initiated. Research is currently being done into four prototype viruses. It is a challenge to investigate how viruses can kill tumor cells on the one hand and stimulate the immune system to clear up killed tumor cells on the other. The properties of the different viruses must therefore be further optimized, after which more tests are needed with the pancreatic cancer cells. It is also very important to look at the safety of administering viruses, not only for the patient but also for his or her immediate environment and for animals. The further improvement of the viruses in combination with immunotherapy should eventually provide a solution for pancreatic cancer patients.