Pancreatic cancer is very resistant to chemotherapy because this tumor has the ability to create a biological barrier around it that protects it from drugs preventing them from reaching the tumor, which makes this cancer one of the most lethal.

Overcoming their defenses would, therefore, improve the effectiveness of the treatment and increase the survival time of those affected and their long-term prognosis. Therefore, a group of experts from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center of the United States has carried out research that has allowed to identify the biological mechanisms that the tumor uses to create the protective barrier, and thus discover a way to cross that defense .

The new therapy manages to break the tumor barrier so that chemotherapy can act on all diseased tissue

The study, whose results have been published in Cancer Cellwas done with mice - which had been genetically engineered to resemble tumors that form in human pancreatic cancer - and used a therapy, developed by Dr. Sunil Hingorani, which combined gemcitabine - a drug anticancer-with an enzyme called PEGPH20.

The researchers found that this combination managed to break the tumor barrier, opening the blood vessels that irrigate it so that, in this way, chemotherapy could act on all the diseased tissue. With the new treatment there was a 70% increase in the survival of the mice; the best results obtained so far in clinical trials, according to Dr. Hingorani.

Hingorani and his team have found that these types of tumors are actually more sensitive to chemotherapy than previously thought, and that the lack of effectiveness of the medication is due to the fact that it does not penetrate the cancerous tissue. They consider, therefore, that the new finding can contribute to the development of effective treatments against pancreatic cancer. In fact, clinical trials with humans have already begun, both in the United States and in Europe.

The Future of Pancreatic Cancer Research and Treatment (November 2019).