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VCU Massey Cancer Center to partner with Israeli biotech firm
Date:3/25/2008

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About Pancreatic Cancer

About 30,000 people die from pancreatic cancer each year. It has a high mortality rate and ranks as the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death as its symptoms often do not present until the disease is in a late stage. Fewer than 5 percent of patients survive for more than five years, giving pancreatic cancer the lowest survival rate of any common cancer type.

Currently the best treatment option for pancreatic cancer is through high-risk surgical removal of part of the pancreas. However, if the cancer affects surrounding vessels and lymph nodes, surgery often is not an option. Chemotherapy and radiation provide alternative treatment options, however, the median survival rate on those protocols is just one year.

About the Clinical Trial

This study involves a novel, gene-based therapy for pancreatic cancer developed by BioCancell. Its new therapeutic agent links a DNA fragment that is responsible for tumor-specific expression of a gene, with a suicidal toxin gene. When the agent is injected directly into the tumor, the DNA fragment will induce the expression of the suicidal toxin in the cancer cells but not in normal tissue. The researchers expect to avoid damaging normal tissue while killing tumor cells.

Candidates for the study are adults with locally advanced pancreatic cancer who are not candidates for immediate surgical resection. Researchers will inject the new agent into cancer directly through a laparoscopic procedure.

Using this approach in pancreatic cancer, they hope that tumors could be down-staged from unresectable status, or inoperable, to resectable, giving patients a better chance of remission.

This agent has been tested and shown to be effective in animal models and anecdotally in two metastatic cancer patients in Israel. The liver lesions of those two patients showed success in shrink
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Contact: Andrea Butler
albutler@vcu.edu
804-628-2111
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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