Research


The PBRU is carrying out a world class translational research programme to develop new ways to diagnose pancreatic disease and to help find new more effective treatments to help patients get better after being diagnosed with pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

This involves testing new drugs or procedures in ethically approved, precisely designed and executed clinical trials. Some of the trials are being carried out in the Pancreas Clinical Research Facility based at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

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We carry out a broad range of translational research in the PBRU, which is divided into three themes:

1. The discovery of new drugs and interventions, which can be used to treat patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

• We carry out clinical trials to test these exciting new treatments

2. To discover new ways of diagnosing pancreatic disease by identifying and validating biomarkers (e.g. identified from patients blood samples)

• We are also developing new methods of screening patients, so we can detect pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer earlier to give patients a better chance of recovery

3. We are applying new diagnostic and imaging strategies for patients with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

• We have a new state-of-art PET-CT scanner, which is being used for one of our research studies.
• We are also developing the use of confocal endoscopy and confocal laparoscopy using the latest laser microscopy to aid diagnosis in pancreatitis.


What is a clinical trial?

The aim of a clinical trial is to test a new drug or procedure to see if it benefits patients when compared with other established treatments. The trial is methodically designed and run inline with UK government legislation to ensure:

• The rights, wellbeing, and dignity of trial participants are protected at all times
• The proposed new treatment using a new drug or procedure is ethically and scientifically valid and given according to a strictly worked out and approved protocol. 
• All procedures and processes are documented, which is traceable, auditable and accountable
• The new treatment is safe to give to patients
• The information obtained from the study is scientifically valid
• Only eligible patients are selected for studies and clinical trials.
• Participants will only be entered into a trial when they have considered all the information and any other options before they give their (fully informed) consent.
• If a patient declines to take part in a clinical trial, the person will still receive the highest standard of care, possible. 

There are several types of clinical trials which we carry out in the PBRU:
Phase I/II trials

• These are called early phase clinical trials. These are used when a new drug is used for the first time in humans.
• The trial is used to ensure that the drug when used at very low doses is safe to use in a small sample of patients, or normal volunteers (Phase I).
• Once this is established, a Phase II trial is carried out in a small group of patients to see if the drug has an effect on the disease process itself as compared with patients given a placebo (e.g. a pill not containing the drug).
• To ensure that the results are valid the patients in the study are randomised. This means that the patient (and their Doctor) does not know if he/she is receiving the drug or placebo.
• When this phase of the trial is completed all the information is scientifically analysed and interpreted.


Phase III trials

• Following Phase II, a Phase III trial is carried out to establish the effect of the drug on a much larger population of eligible patients.
• This is designed to verify how effective the drug is compared with the current standard treatment to determine the benefit for patients.
• Patients are conscientiously followed up after completing all phases of the trial and their excellent standard of treatment at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital is maintained.