September 17, 2008

Drug Extends Pancreatic Cancer Survival

European medical scientists have determined a new form of chemotherapy extends the life of patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer.

The scientists led by Karolinska Institute Professor Matthias Lohr determined the chemotherapy, which destroys new blood vessels that grow around tumors, produced excellent results in a phase II trial.

The researchers said they evaluated the efficacy and safety of three different doses of cationic lipid complexed paclitaxel, or EndoTAG-1, administered twice weekly in combination with weekly infusions of gemcitabine, compared with gemcitabine alone, in 200 patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

"EndoTAG consists of charged particles that bind preferentially to the fast-growing endothelial cells in new blood vessels being formed by tumors," Lohr said. "The drug, paclitaxel, is then released and thus directly reaches an important target in tumors, i.e. the vessels. Paclitaxel itself is not very efficient in pancreratic cancer."

Lohr termed the trial's results the best he has ever seen in palliative treatment of pancreatic cancer.

"The results are really excellent and a phase III study is in the making," he said.

Lohr and colleagues presented their study this week in Stockholm, Sweden, during the 33rd Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology.