Scientists discover new route to boost pancreatic cancer treatment

May 30, 2014

Cancer Research UK scientists have uncovered new insights into how a key pancreatic cancer drug – gemcitabine – is broken down in tumour cells, according to research* published in the British Journal of Cancer (BJC), today (Friday).

The scientists, based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, have discovered that gemcitabine interacts with an important in cells – called the Kennedy Pathway – which cells use to make special fats.

This research has identified that the drug is broken down in tumour by enzymes in the Kennedy Pathway, which might be an alternative way in which it works. 

The findings also suggest that using linoleic acid in combination with gemcitabine increases the amount of gemcitabine in , possibly making it more effective.

Study author, Professor Duncan Jodrell, group leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: "Gemcitabine is one of the drugs that we use commonly to treat pancreatic cancer, but the number of patients who benefit from it is still relatively small."

"Improving our understanding of how gemcitabine interacts with cellular metabolism may allow us to develop combination treatments that improve outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer."

Around 8,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK every year but progress has been slow, with only around three per cent of people surviving their disease five years or more.

Nell Barrie, Cancer Research UK's senior science communications officer, said: "Sadly, survival from pancreatic cancer is still low and we must do everything we can to fight this challenging disease with better treatments and ways to diagnose it early, when treatment is more effective.

"We're making progress but it needs to be much faster, which is why Cancer Research UK is prioritising research into to save more lives from the disease."

Explore further: Scientists find potential way to halt pancreatic cancer spread

More information: Bapiro TE, et al. "Gemcitabine diphosphate choline is a major metabolite linked to the Kennedy Pathway in pancreatic cancer models in vivo (2014)." British Journal of Cancer. DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2014.288

Related Stories

Scientists find potential way to halt pancreatic cancer spread

May 21, 2014
Cancer Research UK scientists have shown how switching off a key protein in pancreatic cells slows the spread of the disease to other tissues, a key step which can mean patients have just weeks to live.

Radioimmunotherapy, Gemcitabine combination shows early promise for metastatic pancreatic ductal cancer

May 20, 2014
A combination of several small doses of an investigational radioimmunotherapy and the chemotherapy gemcitabine had superior outcomes compared with radioimmunotherapy alone in patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal cancer, ...

Drug combination domino effect destroys pancreatic cancer cells

February 22, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer Research UK scientists have revealed how a combination of two very different drugs – currently being tested in clinical trials – amplifies the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells, according ...

Combination therapy may enhance gemcitabine activity

February 28, 2012
Oncologists who treat patients with pancreatic cancer may be one step closer to understanding why gemcitabine, the only currently available treatment, works in some cases but not in others, according to a paper in Cancer ...

Bacteria in mouth may diagnose pancreatic cancer

May 18, 2014
Patients with pancreatic cancer have a different and distinct profile of specific bacteria in their saliva compared to healthy controls and even patients with other cancers or pancreatic diseases, according to research presented ...

Study confirms fibroblast growth factor receptors as targets for pancreatic cancer treatment

December 17, 2013
Proteins called fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) have been implicated in the development of pancreatic cancer, which remains difficult to treat. Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have now confirmed ...

Recommended for you

Study prompts new ideas on cancers' origins

December 16, 2017
Rapidly dividing, yet aberrant stem cells are a major source of cancer. But a new study suggests that mature cells also play a key role in initiating cancer—a finding that could upend the way scientists think about the ...

What does hair loss have to teach us about cancer metastasis?

December 15, 2017
Understanding how cancer cells are able to metastasize—migrate from the primary tumor to distant sites in the body—and developing therapies to inhibit this process are the focus of many laboratories around the country. ...

Cancer immunotherapy may work better in patients with specific genes

December 15, 2017
Cancer cells arise when DNA is mutated, and these cells should be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system. However, cancer cells have found ways to evade detection by the immune system.

Scientists pinpoint gene to blame for poorer survival rate in early-onset breast cancer patients

December 15, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found that inherited variation in a particular gene may be to blame for the lower survival rate of patients diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer.

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

0 comments

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.