Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cell Research
How will this research help patients with pancreatic cancer?Since pancreatic cancer is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, new treatments are needed that can kill the small number of cancer stem cells within the tumor. Studying pancreatic cancer stem cells will help researchers identify targets for new drugs or therapies, which can then be tested in animals and eventually in human clinical trials.
Two clinical trials to target pancreatic cancer stem cells are currently underway at the U-M Cancer Center. The first study is evaluating the toxicity and effectiveness of an experimental drug called GDC-0449, which inhibits a stem cell signaling pathway called hedgehog. The drug is being tested in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer who also are receiving a conventional chemotherapy drug. Biopsies will be examined to see if the number and percentage of cancer stem cells in the tumor changes after treatment with GDC-0449.
The second clinical trial is for patients with pancreatic cancer that can be removed surgically. In this study, the rationale is to use a drug targeting cancer stem cells to minimize cancer recurrence after surgery. Eligible patients receive two weeks of a drug, GSI, which inhibits the Notch signaling pathway, followed by an operation to remove the tumor. Patients will then receive standard chemotherapy, either alone or in conjunction with GSI. The effect of GSI on cancer stem cells and clinical outcomes will be assessed.
How can I learn about clinical trials?Information about currently available clinical trials is available on the Clinical Trials web page. You can also call the Cancer AnswerLine™ at 800-865-1125.