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3rd February 2014

Better treatment for pancreatic cancer patients

Researchers find way to improve pancreatic cancer treatment
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Researchers at University of Manchester believe they have found a way of making chemotherapy more effective for patients with pancreatic cancer.

The research focusses on the selective killing of pancreatic cancer.  Healthy cells will be left alone, making treatment more successful.

Research leader Dr Jason  Bruce said: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers. Most patients develop symptoms after the tumour has spread to other organs. To make things worse, pancreatic cancer is highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.”

The research, published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry,  found that cancer cells have their own energy supply which maintains calcium levels and keeps cells alive.

Researchers used cells from tumours and tested the effects of blocking energy supplies.   They found that by blocking the supply the cancer cells could be selectively killed.

Dr Bruce  added: “Clearly a radical new approach to treatment is urgently required. We wanted to understand how the switch in energy supply in cancer cells might help them survive.”

He said that designing drugs to target this energy supply  “might be an effective strategy for selectively killing cancer cells while sparing normal cells within the pancreas.”

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre and AstraZeneca.

According to Cancer Research UK, only 3.8% of adults with pancreatic cancer survived past the five-year mark between 2005 and 2009.

CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund Maggie Blanks, said: “These findings will certainly of great interest to the pancreatic cancer research community and we’d be keen to see how this approach progresses. Finding weaknesses that can be exploited in this highly aggressive cancer is paramount, so we want to congratulate the Manchester team for their discovery.”

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