Patients with pancreatic cancer may one day benefit from new research into making cancer cells less resistant to chemotherapy.
Experts have developed a drug to inhibit the actions of an enzyme called TAK-1, which seems to be linked to chemotherapy sensitivity. Combining it with chemotherapy drug gemcitabine, tumours in mice shrank by 78% and made them live twice as long.
Only 13% of people who develop pancreatic cancer are still living one year after being diagnosed, and as few as 2-3% survive five years.
Speaking at a major Berlin cancer conference, Dr Davide Melisi, from the National Cancer Institute in Naples, said: “The use of this TAK-1 inhibitor increased the sensitivity of pancreatic cells to all three chemotherapeutic drugs.
“By combining it with classic anti-cancer drugs, we were able to use doses of drugs up to 70 times lower in comparison with the control to kill the same number of cancer cells.
“In mice, we were able to reduce significantly the tumour volume, to prolong the mice survival, and to reduce the toxicity by combining the TAK-1 inhibitor with very low doses of a classic chemotherapeutic drug, gemcitabine, that would have been ineffective otherwise.”
Copyright Press Association 2009