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Early phase trial shows potential of new pancreatic cancer drug

Posted by: Research 7 April 2016

Researchers in New York have found that when given with chemotherapy treatment, a new experimental drug could be used to shrink tumours in patients with pancreatic cancer.

The results of an early phase clinical trial conducted by Professor Linehan were published this week in The Lancet Oncology and suggested that their experimental drug could allow more patients with pancreatic cancer to have surgery – currently the only potentially curative option.

In the trial, a small group of patients with pancreatic cancer were given chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy with the new drug, and the research team investigated the safety and side effects in order to work out the tolerability and optimal dose to use. They also monitored the growth of the tumour in order to investigate each patient’s response to treatment.

The researchers found that the experimental drug was safe to use and the side effects experienced were comparable to those experienced with chemotherapy alone. Excitingly, they also found that many of the patients who were given the experimental drug in combination with chemotherapy saw their tumours stop growing or shrink. This could lead to more patients being eligible for surgery, offering the best chance of survival.

Leanne Reynolds, Head of Research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, commented: “The main aim of the trial was to test the safety of the new drug, investigating its side effects and finding the best dose to use. The study was small and the researchers will now need to take the results forward into a larger trial before they are able to say for sure how effective the drug might be for patients with pancreatic cancer. This is however a really important step towards the development of a new treatment option for pancreatic cancer, which could see more patients being able to have surgery. This is vital if we are to see outcomes improve for people affected by this disease.”