November 11, 2010

New Drug may Combat Pancreatic Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis because it is typically asymptomatic and isn't caught until it's in a late stage. Gefitinib may be a chemopreventive agent for pancreatic cancer, according to this study.

Gefitinib is the only currently approved treatment for pancreatic cancer. It prolongs survival by a few weeks in most cases. Developing ideas to combat pancreatic cancer have focused on earlier treatments, and this is the first time that a chemopreventive strategy has been tried. The strategy was tested on mice.

The mice were bred to be at high risk for pancreatic cancer and then fed gefitinib in escalating doses of 0, 100 and 200 ppm for a period of 35 weeks, at which time the tumor incidence was analyzed.

Compared to the group that didn't received gefitinib, the mid-dose group experienced 77 percent fewer pancreatic tumors and the high-dose group had 100 percent fewer tumors.

In the 100 ppm group, 67.6 percent of the mice were free of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms, a known pre-cursor to pancreatic cancer, compared with 77.3 percent in the 200 ppm group.

"These findings are dramatic enough that human trials should begin soon," said Rao. "The clear message is that the earlier we start, the better the outcome is, and we can already measure neoplasm levels in humans so there is a potential here for clinical benefit."

SOURCE: Cancer Prevention Research, published online November 8, 2010