The drug agent gemcitabine has been the mainstay of the medical treatment of pancreatic cancer (ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas). This assertion has perhaps been challenged by extensive 5-FU combinations in the past couple of years, but is still mostly held to be true by clinicians.
The wide adoption of the use of gemcitabine since 1997 has also engendered a question, why does it ultimately fail? The thought is that resistance to gemcitabine occurs – which then allows the tumor to overpower the effects of the drug.
Now comes a Phase I study by Kurzrock and colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center / University of Texas (Houston) that pairs (together with gemcitabine) the leukemia drug dasatinib, which has shown in pre-clinical studies to help overcome resistance to gemcitabine.
Two of eight of the patients with pancreatic cancer either showed stable disease for more than six months or showed a partial response during the treatment.
It is an early study, but perhaps a useful approach to begin to discover methods to extend the benefit of one of the key drugs used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Dale O’Brien, MD