Hutchinson Center and TGen scientists discover potential ‘break through’ in pancreatic cancer

Administering the enzyme/gemcitabine combination degrades HA in the tumor barrier and results in rapid reduction of the interstitial fluid pressure. This in turn opens the blood vessels and permits high concentrations of chemotherapy to reach the tumor.

Generally, pancreatic tumours have the lowest response to treatment of all major cancers, however ongoing care by multi-disciplinary experts can ensure quality of life for longer than was possible in the past. Treatment options depend on the cancer’s extent.

For removable tumours, surgery is the most common treatment and can be very effective with a low complication risk.

The most common surgery is the ‘Whipple’ procedure, which removes the ‘head’ of the pancreas and sometimes more of the gland, as well as the gallbladder, part of the stomach, the lower half of the bile duct, and part of the small intestine.

Radiation therapy, usually combined with chemotherapy, is often used after surgery to prevent recurrence and can also be used on patients whose cancer has become too widespread to be removed surgically.

Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, whose tumours cannot be removed by surgery, may receive chemotherapy to reduce the rate of tumour growth.

Rehabilitation therapy by physical therapists plays a key role in improving a pancreatic cancer patient’s mobility, strength and endurance.

Details about the open clinical trial can be found here.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Overall five-year survival is less than 5 percent with a median survival of four to six months.

Grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Giles W. and Elise G. Mead Foundation, Safeway and several individuals supported the research. Collaborators at the University of Washington also contributed to the study.

About Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world.

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process.


Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
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