A new drug created at the University of Minnesota may hold the answer to defeating pancreatic cancer, according to results published today in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine.
The study is based on successful outcomes in a mouse model - results researchers expect to carry over to human patients when the drug potentially begins human trials in 2013.
The drug, Minnelide, is a type of injectable chemotherapy designed to target tumor cells. The drug works by inhibiting a heat shock protein, HSP 70, which has been proven to aid the growth of tumor cells. By stopping HSP 70 from working, Minnelide disperses the cells integral to the tumor's growth and the cancer disintegrates. The drug is based on patented technology designed in the lab of Ashok Saluja, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of research in the University of Minnesota Medical School's Department of Surgery. Selwyn Vickers, M.D., chairman of the Department of Surgery, Gunda Georg, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development in the College of Pharmacy, and Bruce Blazar, M.D., director of the Center for Translational Medicine, also partnered on this project. Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal of all cancers. This year alone, more than 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and the median survival time following a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is just six months.