New study finds way to boost pancreatic cancer treatment

3 June 2014

Scientists have discovered new insights into how a drug developed to treat pancreatic cancer is broken down in tumour cells, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Researchers from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute have uncovered how gemcitabine interacts with an important pathway in cells, which the body uses to make special fats.

The drug is broken down by enzymes in tumour cells, which may be an alternative way in which it works, suggests the study.

Researchers discovered that using linoleic acid in combination with gemcitabine increases the amount of the cancer drug in tumour cells, potentially making it more effective.

Professor Duncan Jodrell, lead author of the study, commented: “Gemcitabine is one of the drugs that we use commonly to treat pancreatic cancer, but the number of patients who benefit from it is still relatively small.

“Improving our understanding of how gemcitabine interacts with cellular metabolism may allow us to develop combination treatments that improve outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer.”

Around 8,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year in the UK. Slow progress is being made in finding an effective treatment for the disease, meaning only three per cent of patients survive for five or more years.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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