Friday, December 22, 2017

New drug breaks down chemo resistance for some pancreatic tumors

Dr. Sunil Hingorani led a clinical trial of the drug PEGPH20

CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 22, 2017 – A new drug that breaks down resistance to chemo in pancreatic cancer tumors has shown promise in making progress in the the highly fatal cancer.

In a phase 2 clinical trial aimed at determining effectiveness, researchers led by Dr. Sunil Hingornai of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, showed the drug PEGPH20 added to treatment with a combination chemotherapy regimen of paclitaxel and gemcitabine increased overall survival by 3 months. The study was published online Dec. 12, 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The drug that Higorani helped to develop works against certain types of pancreatic tumors that produce hyaluronic acid, or HA, a gel-like fluid that increases the tumor’s internal pressure and squeezes shut local blood vessels. Patients with high levels of HA tend to have poor prognosis.
In the study 202 of the 231 patients had been on the trial long enough to be evaluated. In a subset of 84 of those patients whose tumors had high levels of HA, the PEGPH20 and chemo regimen had cancer progression halted for 9.2 months compared to 5.2 months for those receiving the standard chemo alone.

As a result of that trial, the researchers have begun a phase 3 trial that will test the drug in many more patients worldwide to determine the effectiveness of adding PEGPH20 to chemo for patients with this type of pancreatic cancer.

“We still haven’t fully proven anything yet, strictly speaking,” cautioned Hingorani, who is the phase 2 trial’s leader and a faculty member at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “But I think (this strategy) is very rational. Let me put it this way: I think it would be irresponsible not to finish the global phase 3 trial as the most rigorous test of this hypothesis. I think we’re obligated now to answer the question.”

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