Research teams in UK and USA both make significant breakthrough in improving the effectiveness of treatment for pancreatic cancer
Research teams in the UK and USA have both just shown that an enzyme called PEGPH20 or hyaluronidase acts to allow higher concentrations of drugs into pancreatic cancer tumours resulting in more effective treatment. Pancreatic cancer tumours produce a complex extracellular matrix, which protects them against treatments. One major component of this matrix is a substance called hyaluronan, or hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a complex sugar (a glycosaminoglycan) that occurs naturally in the body and is secreted at extremely high levels by pancreatic cancer cells. Professor David Tuveson's team at the University of Cambridge, whose work was published in the journal Gut on 20th March 2012, showed that HA reduces blood flow to the tumours and that PEGPH20 reverses this to increase blood flow to allow drugs to reach the tumour more effectively. At the same time Dr Sunil Hingorani's team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, whose work was published in the journal Cancer Cell on 19th March 2012, have shown that HA increases the pressure in pancreatic tumours and that PEGPH20 reduces this pressure to allow drugs to penetrate the tumours more effectively. Both teams work was conducted in laboratory models and an early clinical trial in humans is under way at a few sites in the USA (details on clinicaltrials.gov) looking at the effect of PEGPH20 to improve the effectiveness of gemcitabine in late stage pancreatic cancer.
For more information see article from GUT journal http://bit.ly/H5k2O6 and Cancer Cell paper http://bit.ly/GQ88N7
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