Fighting Pancreatic Cancer

1Two-step strategy to fight killer pancreatic cancer

Australian scientists say a “one-two punch” approach could boost survival chances of people with the deadliest form of cancer.

The technique involves “priming” pancreatic tumours by targeting surrounding tissues with a drug that opens blood vessels, before starting chemotherapy three days later.

Tests on mice and human cancer samples in the lab, outlined this morning in the journal Science Translational Medicine, found that the approach doubled survival time and hampered the spread of mutated cells.

Pancreatic tumours are the fifth biggest cancer killer in Australia and carry the bleakest prognosis. Only about 7 per cent of patients survive five years past diagnosis, and only about 1 per cent with advanced tumours.

A new treatment, which combines the chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine and Abraxane, has extended average survival by only nine weeks. Co-author Marina Pajic said far greater improvements were on the horizon.

She said genomic testing of tumours could also be used to guide decisions. “We have to develop tailored treatments for this disease to make each patient’s survival much more significantly better, and (provide) real treatment options,” said Dr Pajic, a pharmacologist with the Garvan Institute in Sydney.

Because Fasudil had never been combined with chemotherapy in human patients, Dr Pajic said clinical trials of the new approach were needed. The drug’s safety record meant trials could take as little as three years, unlike the usual five to 10 years.

Author: Mayo Clinic