Intriguing Pancreatic Cancer Study

Pancreatic cancer in mice shrinks with novel chemotherapy

(RxWiki News) Pancreatic cancer doesn't currently have effective treatment options. That could be changing with a novel chemotherapy agent currently being tested in Germany.

A targeted therapy known as BAY 86-9766 may become a viable treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), according to preclinical findings.

German researchers have found that the drug produced dramatic results in mice engineered to have an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer

Nicole Teichmann, PhD, of the Klinikum rechts der Isar at the Technische Universität München in Munich, said that "our novel chemotherapeutic agent leads to dramatic tumor shrinkage after only one week of treatment.”

She went on to say that the therapy was equally effective in animals with advanced tumors. Dr. Teichmann explained that the genetic alterations induced in the mice closely mimic those found in humans with pancreatic cancer.

“The mutations trigger the onset of a signaling cascade that is necessary for the survival and proliferation of the cancer cells,” Dr. Teichmann said. “Our novel chemotherapeutic drug inhibits one essential protein of this cascade and therefore leads to the cascade’s shutdown.”

Mice that were given the BAY 86-9766 lived about 20 days longer than mice that received placebos. The agent dramatically reduced the tumor size after only one week, and the shrinkage was seen in animals with advanced stage disease.

“We were really surprised that the tumor load dramatically decreases after one week of therapy and also that the treatment conferred such a strong overall survival benefit,” Dr. Teichmann said.

While the early response to the drug was quite impressive, the tumors returned after about three weeks of treatment.

Dr. Teichmann sees this as an opportunity. “We can exploit this same tumor relapse in the mouse to investigate the resistance mechanism to improve the therapeutic strategy," she said.

This research was presented American Association for Cancer Research’s Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference.

Before publication in a peer-reviewed journal, all research is considered preliminary. 

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Review Date: 
July 6, 2012