One-Two Punch Kills Pancreatic Cancer in Animal Trials
Pancreatic cancer. The two words invoke fear and dread. It is well known fact that pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers known. Five-year survival rates are very low, around 5%. By the time this type of cancer is diagnosed, treatment options are limited, and usually futile. According to the National Cancer Institute,approximately 44000 Americans will develop pancreatic cancer in 2012; 37000 will succumb to this deadly disease.
Researchers are keen to make headway towards reducing the mortality of this type of cancer. At the University of Cambridge in the UK, researchers are doing trials on patients with pancreatic cancer which are showing promising results. By combining the drug gemcitabine (Gemzar) with an experimental drug tentatively named MRK003, the result was the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells.
MRK003 is a type of drug called a gamma secretase inhibitor. This drug caused widespread death of the pancreatic cells by starving the tumor cells of oxygen. Endothelial cells which provide nourishment for the pancreatic tumor were also killed by MRK003.
The combined effect of these two drugs seemed greater than the sum of the effects of each drug individually, thus causing intensified killing of the pancreatic cancer cells.In animal studies, the combination of gemcitabine and MRK003 caused a domino effect which ultimately resulted in the death of the pancreatic cancer cells.
According to Dr. Duncan Jodrell, one of the lead researchers in this study, these results are step forward. "We're delighted that the results of this important research are now being evaluated in a clinical trial, to test whether this might be a new treatment approach for patients with pancreatic cancer, although it will be some time before we're able to say how successful this will be in patients."