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New Use for a Bad Old Drug (Thalidomide) in Pancreatic Cancer

Those of a certain age will remember the terrible congenital malformations fifty years on due to the prenatal use of thalidomide. Gradually in certain circumstances thalidomide use has made a cautious comeback in medicine – now including for pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas).

Chinese researchers from Shang Dong Tumor Hospital in Jinan, China have published an interesting Phase II clinical study in the November issue of Pancreatology that looked at capecitabine (Xeloda) in combination with thalidomide as a possible second-line treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in those who were refractory to gemcitabine treatment. Their conclusion was that this combination was reasonably well tolerated, and showed reasonable response in certain pancreatic cancer patients with advanced disease. Of 31 patients, two demonstrated a partial response and eleven patients showed stable disease.

Sometimes you CAN use an old dog for new tricks.

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Dale O’Brien, MD

The Genetic Map of Pancreatic Cancer

Cancer is a disease that is thought to begin as a result of one or more mutations in the DNA of our cells. In the past, pancreatic cancer researchers typically concentrated on a limited number of mutations on perhaps four to eight known gene culprits. . Now, a comprehensive listing of genetic mutations in cancer of the pancreas (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas) has been published in the journal Nature on November 15, 2012 by a large consortium of Australian, North American and European researchers (including two of our Pancreatica Science Board members, Drs. Hruban and Tempero).

This study is a milestone in pancreatic cancer research that looked at tumors in 142 pancreatic cancer patients. Intensive analysis of 99 tumors found 16 significantly mutated genes with 2,016 identified mutations and many other genetic variations. This included alterations not previously understood to be involved in pancreatic cancer. This new information and understanding gained directly from human subjects (for the first time) looks to open a doorway to an expanded era in treatment targets in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

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Dale O’Brien, MD

Seattle Champions!

Congratulations to our Seattle fundraisers who took part in the Amica Seattle Marathon, Half Marathon or 5K last Sunday!

It was a blustery rainy day but everyone pushed themselves and we can’t thank you enough for your incredible participation in the fight against pancreatic cancer!

Don’t forget to find us on Facebook to share your experiences with others! Gresocarefev .