Pancreatic cancer is notorious for being one of the hardest types of cancer to treat. Often, it isn’t caught until it’s advanced, leaving chemotherapy as the main treatment option.
But even chemotherapy isn’t very effective because the cancer quickly develops resistance to it. One reason for this resistance is something called tumor fibrosis: the cancer cells are surrounded by scar-like tissue, which makes it hard for the chemotherapy drugs to do their job.
This is a big reason why fewer than 10% of patients with one form of the disease, called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, are alive five years after diagnosis.
A Possible Solution: PXS-5505 Drug
Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia are excited about a new drug, called PXS-5505, that could change the game.
It’s already being tested for treating bone marrow cancer and has shown promise in mice for treating pancreatic cancer too.
This drug goes after the scar-like tissue around the cancer cells, breaking it down.
When used alongside regular chemotherapy, the life expectancy of mice with pancreatic cancer increased by over 35% compared to just using chemotherapy alone.
The drug also reduced the cancer spreading to other parts like the liver by 45%.
“The drug makes the area around the tumor more ‘normal,’ which allows the chemotherapy to work better,” says Dr. Jessica Chitty, a senior researcher at Garvan.
What’s Next: Clinical Trials and Hope for the Future
Associate Professor Thomas Cox, who led the study, says this is a big step toward better treatments for this difficult cancer.
“We’re now getting ready to test this drug in clinical trials specifically for pancreatic cancer patients,” he adds.
Gary Phillips, the CEO of Pharmaxis, the company that developed the drug, also has high hopes. “We’ve seen good results in treating bone marrow cancer and are excited about its potential for treating pancreatic cancer,” he says.
This study is a light at the end of a very dark tunnel for those with pancreatic cancer, offering a promising path for more effective treatments and, hopefully, longer life.
For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about herb that may help treat pancreatic cancer, and results showing how to detect pancreatic cancer at treatable stages.
The study was published in Nature Cancer.
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