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University of Oklahoma scientists discover way to stop pancreatic cancer in early stages
Date:1/11/2011

ing M.D. Anderson, whose specialists called the research "provocative," to discuss a pilot study in early 2011. Researchers hope to begin a Phase II clinical trial at the centers within 18 months. A Phase I trial is not required since the drug already has approval for human use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The clinical trials will focus on at-risk patients, particularly those with an inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. The drug also could help other high risk populations, including patients with a family history of pancreatic cancer and American Indian populations or others with Type 2 diabetes.

Gefitinib works by targeting signals of a gene that is among the first to mutate when pancreatic cancer is present. By targeting the signal for tumor growth expressed by the mutated gene, researchers were able to stop the cancer's procession.

"This gene is the key in 95 percent of cases of pancreatic cancer. It is our best target," Rao said. "By targeting this gene, we can activate or inactivate several other genes and processes down the line."

Rao said the drug also could be effective in lung and colorectal cancer, but it is not known if it would work as well as in pancreatic cancer. The OU College of Pharmacy is assisting in the development of drugs and imaging techniques needed to further test Gefitinib with patients.


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Contact: Diane Clay
diane-clay@ouhsc.edu
405-271-2323
University of Oklahoma
Source:Eurekalert  

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