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Chemo Plus Synthetic Drug Shrunk Pancreatic Tumors

Research with mice might one day yield new therapies, study says

THURSDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- When used with chemotherapy, an experimental synthetic drug called JP1201 was effective against human pancreatic cancer in mice, a new study found.

JP1201 mimics that action of a naturally occurring protein (Smac) that triggers cell death.

In this study, researchers gave JP1201 and the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine to mice with transplanted human pancreatic tumors.

"There was a 50 percent regression in tumor size during a two-week treatment of the mice," study senior author Dr. Rolf Brekken, an associate professor of surgery and pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said in a news release from the medical center.

The combination treatment also prolonged the life of the mice. The finding could lead to more effective therapies for pancreatic and possibly other cancers, the researchers said.

The study was published March 23 in the journal Cancer Research.

"This compound enhanced the efficacy of chemotherapy and improved survival in multiple animal models of pancreatic cancer. We now have multiple lines of evidence in animals showing that this combination is having a potent effect on pancreatic cancer, which is a devastating disease," Brekken said.

The research was supported by Joyant Pharmaceuticals, a Dallas-based company and UT Southwestern spinoff that's developing medical applications of compounds that mimic that action of the Smac protein.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about pancreatic cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: UT Southwestern Medical Center, news release, March 23, 2010

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