A clinical trial of a new drug on patients with advanced (stage IV) pancreatic cancer has been launched.
Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office is overseeing the tests which it is hoped could make strides in tackling one of the most difficult cancers to treat.
For the first Phase I/II clinical trial of MK-0752, 60 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer will be administered the drug in combination with the standard treatment for the condition – gemcitabine.
When tested in isolation MK-0752 was tolerated with acceptable side-effects by cancer patients.
The trial will initially test the safety of the drug at low levels, but the dose will be escalated as the trial proceeds to find a suitable dose level. Once a suitable dose has been defined, the second stage of the study is to test the effectiveness of the drug in treating pancreatic cancer.
MK-0752 is being provided by pharmaceutical company Merck & Co, in a collaboration with Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office, to study it in patients with pancreatic cancer.
It works by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth in a cell signalling pathway called Notch, which plays an important role in cell survival and cell movement. Blocking this pathway can result in the cell instructing itself to “self destruct”.
Copyright Press Association 2010