News

    Scientists Report Potential Breakthrough in Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

    Overall survival increases by 70 percent in mice

    Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center report they've found a way to break through the unique biological barrier a pancreas cancer tumor builds around itself in mice.
    Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center report they've found a way to break through the unique biological barrier a pancreas cancer tumor builds around itself in mice.
    Art Chimes

    Scientists in Seattle are reporting a potential breakthrough in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, a disease which stubbornly resists most therapies.

    Pancreas cancer tumors are resistant to chemotherapy partly because they form a biological barrier around themselves.

    Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center believe they've found a way to break that barrier down.  

    "Pancreas cancer actually has the highest one-year and five-year mortalities of any cancer," says Sunil Hingorani, senior author of the study published in Cancer Cell.  

    That high fatality rate has been something of a puzzle for researchers who study pancreatic cancer. Powerful chemotherapy drugs that kill off pancreas cancer cells in the laboratory are next to useless in living cancer patients.

    Scientists have observed how tumors in the pancreas, in effect, wall themselves off with a collagen material similar to scar tissue. That exerts pressure on the blood vessels that supply the tumor, collapsing many of them and restricting not just the flow of blood but also of chemotherapy drugs.

    "And so in this way, the tumor actually isolates itself completely from the circulation, and when we try to give drugs through the vein, they essentially bypass the tumor and instead go everywhere else," Hingorani says.

    So the problem may not be that the chemotherapy medicine doesn't work, but that it simply may not be able to reach its target.

    To find out, Hingorani and his colleagues used mice genetically engineered to stand in for human pancreatic cancer patients. They treated them with the standard chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine, plus the enzyme PEGPH20, which allows the collapsed blood vessels that supply the tumor to re-open.**

    "We found that in essentially every animal that we tested, we saw the tumors shrink or at least stop growing," he said. "And we found that overall survival increased by about 70 percent - so not quite doubling, but just about."

    Of course, what works on mice doesn't necessarily work on people, so the researchers are beginning human trials. Hingorani says he is optimistic, but cautions that it will be a year or two before results are available from the tests with people.

    However, if all works as the researchers hope, not only would the chemotherapy be more effective, there may be fewer nasty side effects. That's because with more of the medicine actually reaching the tumor, doctors may be able to use less of the powerful chemotherapy drugs.

    **A small correction was made in the ninth paragraph of this article to clarify that the enzyme/gemcitabine combination does not directly cause the tumor’s collapsed blood vessels to re-open.  Instead, it triggers a degradation of the tumor barrier that lowers the fluid pressure in the region. This, in turn, allows the collapsed blood vessels to re-open and permits more chemotherapy drugs to reach the tumor.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.