According to the BBC News researchers from the Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge have created a drug combination to fight pancreatic cancer.An existing chemotherapy drug called gemcitabine has been combined with an experimental chemical called MRK003 and is thought to be able to block the actions of a protein called ‘gamma secretase’ that plays a range of roles in the body. To test the effectof this combination they gave the mixture to mice genetically engineered to develop pancreatic cancer. They found that that the mice survived 26 days with the combination treatment, compared with just nine when given an inactive dummy drug.
Following the success of the animal trials, Cancer Research UK reports that a human trial of gemcitabine combined with another gamma secretase blocker are now underway.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK, and patients with metastatic disease (where the cancer has spread) survive between two and six months on average.