PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) have discovered a literal 'break through' in pancreatic cancer.
A unique biological barrier that pancreatic cancer tumors build around themselves have made them especially resistant to chemotherapy treatments, according to the Hutchinson Center/TGen study published today in the highly-regarded journal Cancer Cell.
Pre-clinical experiments show that a combination of drugs could break down the barrier surrounding these tumors, allowing chemotherapy drugs to freely spread and permeate throughout the cancerous tissue, according to the study.
"Discovering how to break through this barrier is a significant finding that could eventually enable therapeutic compounds to be much more effective in combating this deadly cancer and helping patients," said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, M.D., TGen's Physician-In-Chief and one of the authors of the study, as well as one of the world's leading authorities on pancreatic cancer.
"The barrier surrounding pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma has prevented therapeutics from reaching and effectively acting on this cancer," said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is head of TGen's Clinical Translational Research Division.
This research is now being tested for the first time in patients in the U.S. and Europe, including those at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the Hutchinson Center's patient treatment arm. These tests have the potential to significantly increase the length of survival in patients with pancreatic cancer, which is notoriously fast-spreading and among the most lethal of all cancers, the study says.
Dr. Sunil Hingorani, M.D., Ph.D., the study's senior author and an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research and Public Health Sciences divisions, developed the study's laboratory model. By combining gemcitabine the current standard chemotherapy
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The Translational Genomics Research Institute