Proof that scientists waste no time in finding treatments for diseases that at the moment remain without a bullet proof remedy is a new experimental drug. According to researchers from Cambridge, their experimental drug has been successful in killing pancreatic cancer cells.
As reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers from Cambridge obtained successful results that might give hope for the numerous patients suffering from this disease. Even if the present study doesn’t result in a direct medication for pancreatic cancer it will nonetheless represent a breakthrough in handling this type of cancer.
Professor David Tuveson, member of the research said the results are “a real example of how research taking place in the lab directly influences decisions made in the clinic to improve treatment for patients”.
The experimental drug in focus is named MRK002 and is a gamma secretase inhibitor used to inhibit or block a crucial cell signaling pathway in pancreatic cancer cells, as well as blood vessels lining cells, at fault for nourishing tumors.
According to the scientists from Cambridge, when the gamma secretase inhibitor is combined with gemcitabine it releases an action that results in killing pancreatic cancer cells. Basically when these two drugs are combined, each one’s effect is multiplied, hence becoming a lot more powerful in damaging pancreatic cancer cells.
Gemcitabine is a nucleoside analog commonly used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer as well as breast cancer. The market name of the drug is Gemzar.
Tuveson explained that the two drugs “set off a domino effect of molecular activity to switch off cell survival processes and destroy pancreatic cancer cells”.
Initially, the experimental drug has been successfully tested on animals and since the results were encouraging, scientists began the trial on humans. The clinical trial is currently managed by Cambridge University Hospital Foundation Trust and Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office.
As Professor Duncan Jodrell points out the clinical test will determine “whether this might be a new treatment approach for patients with pancreatic cancer, although it will be some time before we’re able to say how successful this will be in patients”.