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Clinical Trial Results Change Standard of Care for Pancreatic,Cancer Patients, Future Therapies Discussed

CHICAGO, June 05, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute's Philip A. Philip, M.D., Ph.D. F.R.C.P., professor of medicine and oncology, presented the outcome of one of the largest randomized phase III pancreas cancer clinical trials in North America and chaired an education session about the future of pancreatic cancer therapies at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, IL.

The clinical trial, A Phase III Randomized Open-Label Study Comparing Gemcitabine Plus Cetuximab Versus Gemcitabine as First-Line Therapy of Patients with Advanced Pancreas Cancer, questioned the benefit of using Cetuximab to target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in advanced pancreatic cancer patients.

The EGFR is a protein found on the surface of some cancer cells and to which the epidermal growth factor binds, causing uncontrolled cell division -- a predisposition for cancer. The EGFR is found at abnormally high levels on the surface of most pancreatic cancer cells. This study examined the effectiveness of Cetuximab, an anticancer monoclonal antibody directed to block the EGFR, combined with the standard chemotherapy agent Gemcitabine prescribed for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Over 760 pancreatic cancer patients, throughout the U.S. and Canada, participated in the study which compared outcomes of Gemcitabine coupled with Cetuximab as first-line chemotherapy against single-agent Gemcitabine.

"Contrary to previous hypotheses, our study found Cetuximab, along with Gemcitabine, did not offer increased benefits in treating a patient's pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Philip.

Initiated by the Southwest Oncology Group, this study was a substantial accomplishment for the group, concluding two years earlier than their initial five-year goal.

"We were able to gather definitive answers in a shorter amount of time, al
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