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Medical Moment: Tumor penetrating therapy kills pancreatic cancer

It's difficult to treat and even harder to beat, but researchers have discovered a new therapy that may be able to give hope to patients.
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - This year, 60,000 people will be told they have pancreatic cancer. Every 12 minutes, someone dies of it.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat and even harder to beat. In fact, by 2028, pancreatic cancer will be the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. But researchers have discovered a new therapy that may be able to give hope to patients.

Current treatments may involve radiation, surgery and chemo, but often pancreatic cancer is resistant to drugs. Researchers at UC San Diego and Moores Cancer Center are developing a new tumor-penetrating therapy: a peptide called IRGD is given with chemotherapy, and can break through the fibrous tissue protecting the cancer.

In lab mice, you can see within 15 minutes of being injected with the IRGD therapy, the drugs penetrate the tumor. In a small study, the tumors stopped growing in 93% of the patients given IRGD. 50% had their tumors shrink. Now, a larger national study is planned in the next year.

None of the patients in the smaller clinical trial reported any significant side effects -- and this is good news not only for pancreatic cancer, but this therapy could be adapted for several other hard-to-treat cancers.

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