Discovery offers potential new pancreatic cancer treatment

November 2, 2009

Tiny particles that can carry drugs and target cancer cells may offer treatment hope for those suffering with pancreatic cancer. New research to be presented in November at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting in Los Angeles reveals that tumor-penetrating microparticles (TPM) have been specifically designed to break through hard-to-infiltrate barriers and deliver drugs more effectively and efficiently than the standard form of chemotherapy such as those injected through a vein.

According to Jessie L.S. Au, Pharm.D., Ph.D., an AAPS fellow and a distinguished university professor at Ohio State University who initiated the study, TPM are designed to treat cancer in the peritoneal cavity. The peritoneal cavity contains organs, including the pancreas, that are home to more than 250,000 new cases of cancer a year in the United States alone. " cells are surrounded by specialized cells that protect them from chemotherapy," explains Dr. Au. "Our goal is to use TPM to pass this barrier and successfully deliver drugs to the tumor cells, which is currently the biggest hurdle a physician faces in pancreatic cancer treatment."

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer in the U.S., with more than 80 percent of the 38,000 patients stricken with the disease dying within one year of diagnosis.

Dr. Au, who is also co-founder of Optimum Therapeutics LLC, the company bringing TPM to clinical trials, goes on to explain that TPM releases what the researchers call a "smart bomb" of drugs to create holes in the tumor so TPM can reach tumor cells. Once inside a tumor, TPM slowly releases drug levels that are sustained over several weeks, targeting both the rapid- and slow-growing tumors. Because the TPM were designed to move about and reach tumors without being swept away by the , they are able to stay in the peritoneal cavity longer and deliver highly concentrated drug doses to the cancer-affected organ. It is this two-tiered drug attack that is unique in pancreatic cancer treatment.

With just one TPM dose of drugs proving to be equally as effective as multiple injections of chemotherapy, TPM delivers less toxicity to patients, making it a safer option than the standard form of other therapies. "Based on the encouraging results in mice carrying implants of human pancreatic cancer, we are cautiously optimistic that TPM may provide benefits to patients with this disease," says Ze Lu, Ph.D., principal scientist and project leader. "TPM may prove to be especially helpful to patients with late stages of the disease." According to Dr. Lu, the researchers have been working on TPM for more than 10 years and look forward to receiving FDA approval for testing TPM in patients in 2010.

The researchers are collaborating with physicians at the Medical University of South Carolina who believe a potential use of TPM, in addition to treating patients with peritoneal metastases, is to downstage or downsize the tumors so that they are operable.

Source: American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

Related Stories

Recommended for you

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

More evidence of link between severe gum disease and cancer risk

January 16, 2018
Data collected during a long-term health study provides additional evidence for a link between increased risk of cancer in individuals with advanced gum disease, according to a new collaborative study led by epidemiologists ...

Researchers develop a remote-controlled cancer immunotherapy system

January 15, 2018
A team of researchers has developed an ultrasound-based system that can non-invasively and remotely control genetic processes in live immune T cells so that they recognize and kill cancer cells.

Dietary fat, changes in fat metabolism may promote prostate cancer metastasis

January 15, 2018
Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, ...

Pancreatic tumors may require a one-two-three punch

January 15, 2018
One of the many difficult things about pancreatic cancer is that tumors are resistant to most treatments because of their unique density and cell composition. However, in a new Wilmot Cancer Institute study, scientists discovered ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Nov 05, 2009
While it's great that such developments are on the horizon, my step-mother Julie is in advanced Stage IV with pancreatic cancer. I hear about all these highly-promising things, but it seems none of them will be available soon enough to help Julie. These day late and a dollar short sorts of things will be a bitter pill to swallow. As for the lengthy times for FDA approval, Julie doesn't *have* a lengthy time left. Truly, doesn't it seem more sensible to *really* fast-track drugs that show major benefits, as in, immediately? Especially in cancer treatments?

Considering how many drugs get FDA approval where "death" is one of the potential side effects, from aspirin to acetaminophen to Geodon, what on earth do Stage IV cancer patients have to *lose* from trying out experimental drugs with HUGE preliminary results? Death is certain without them, so what outweighs THAT?


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.