In a new study, researchers found a new way to make chemotherapy more effective against pancreatic cancer.
The finding opens a promising new front in that battle.
The research was led by a team from Mayo Clinic.
Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a lethal malignancy that most often is resistant to chemotherapy.
It constitutes 93% of pancreatic cancers and is predicted to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030.
The 5-year relative survival rate of PDAC patients is less than 10%.
Researchers have been searching for ways to increase the sensitivity of the tumors to cancer-fighting drugs.
In the study, the team used patient cell lines and tumor-bearing models and found that inhibition of GSK-3, an enzyme involved in many cancers, could sensitize PDAC cell lines to gemcitabine, the most commonly used chemotherapy.
They found that GSK-3 inhibitor treatment prevented cancer cells’ ability to repair single-strand DNA damage induced by gemcitabine.
The GSK-3 inhibitor strongly increased pancreatic tumor cancer cell death and prolonged survival in tumor-bearing models when combined with chemotherapy.
The findings suggest that GSK-3 inhibitors may overcome resistance to gemcitabine as well as to other chemotherapies.
By inhibiting GSK-3, we can impede the cells’ DNA damage response, leading to synergistic tumor cell death even in cells that are naturally resistant to chemotherapy.
One author of the study is Daniel D. Billadeau, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher.
The study is published in Clinical Cancer Research.
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