A study to learn more about how the immune system works in pancreatic cancer (PORTICOtrans)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Pancreatic cancer





This study is looking to see if it is possible to take tissue samples during surgery to remove pancreatic cancer.

The study is taking place at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. 

More about this trial

Pancreatic cancer can be difficult to treat. The usual treatments are surgery and chemotherapy. But immunotherapy doesn’t work very well. So, researchers are running this study to work out why. 

Before the researchers can run a large study, they need to do a small study to see if it’s possible to do it well. This is called a feasibility study.

Some people have an operation called a Whipple’s procedure to remove pancreatic cancer. In this study, researchers plan to look at which parts of the immune system are present in the cancer and the surrounding tissues. This is called the ‘tumour immune milieu’.

Before the operation, the surgeon stops the blood supply to the pancreas. This can change what parts of the immune system are within the cancer and in the surrounding tissue. 

So, the researchers will see if it’s possible to take the tissue samples (biopsies) before the blood supply to the cancer is stopped. They’ll compare these samples with samples leftover after the operation. 

The main aims of this study are to find out:

  • if this way of taking samples is possible 
  • if it gives enough information to help develop immune treatments for pancreatic cancer

Please note – you won’t benefit as a result of taking part in this study. But the information collected might help to better understand pancreatic cancer and benefit patients in the future.

Who can enter

The following bullet points list the entry conditions for this study. Talk to your doctor or the study team if you are unsure about any of these. They will be able to advise you. 

Who can take part

You may be able to join this study if all of the following apply. You:

  • have the most common type of pancreatic cancer called adenocarcinoma of the pancreas
  • are scheduled to have an operation called a Whipple’s operation to remove the cancer
  • are at least 18 years old 

Who can’t take part

  • have had treatment or radiotherapy before having surgery
  • have any other medical condition or mental health problem that the study team think would affect you taking part

Trial design

This is a feasibility study. The researchers need 10 people to take part. It is for people who are having surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. 

The study team will check your medical notes for information on your past and present health, and for information about your cancer.

Samples for research
You give some extra blood samples before and on the day of surgery. Where possible you give these at the same time as routine blood samples. 

If possible, the doctors will take a tumour sample during surgery. They take this just before you have the pancreas removed. They plan to look:

  • for biomarkers Open a glossary item
  • at pieces of DNA Open a glossary item

Hospital visits

You see a doctor who explains the study to you. You have a chance to ask any questions. After that you sign a consent form if you agree to take part. This visit will take about 1½ hours. You are free to change your mind at any time if you don’t want to take part after all. 

Side effects

There shouldn’t be any extra side effects as a result of taking part in this study.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Duncan Jodrell

Supported by

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University of Cambridge

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

Rate this page:

No votes yet
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think