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Hutchinson Center scientists break through pancreas cancer treatment barrier
Date:3/19/2012

SEATTLE Pancreas cancer tumors spread quickly and are notoriously resistant to treatment, making them among the deadliest of malignancies. Their resistance to chemotherapy stems in part from a unique biological barrier the tumor builds around itself. Now scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a way to break through that defense, and their research represents a potential breakthrough in the treatment of pancreas cancer.

In a paper to be published in the March 20 issue of Cancer Cell, senior author Sunil Hingorani, M.D., Ph.D., an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research and Public Health Sciences divisions, and colleagues describe the biological mechanisms of how the tumor barrier is formed and detail a newly discovered way to break it down. Their research significantly increased the length of survival in a genetically engineered mouse model of the disease. Early clinical trials in humans are under way at a few sites in the U.S. and Europe, including Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the Hutchinson Center's patient treatment arm. Details about the open clinical trial can be found here: http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01453153

Using a mouse model developed by Hingorani, the scientists combined gemcitabine, the current standard chemotherapy used to treat pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas, with an enzyme called PEGPH20. When they infused the combination into specially engineered mice whose pancreas tumors mimic those of human pancreas cancer, the combination broke down the matrix barrier within the tumors and allowed the chemotherapy to permeate freely and spread throughout the cancerous tissue. The result was a 70 percent increase in survival time of the mice after the start of treatment, from 55 to 92 days.

"This represents the largest survival increase we've seen in any of the studies done in a preclinical model, and it ri
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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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