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New Drug Works With Other Drugs To Attack Pancreatic Cancer

Combination of Experimental Drug and Checkpoint Inhibitors Fight Tumor Cells

A study published November 12 in Cancer Cell reports that the experimental drug GSK547 (GlaxoSmithKline, Brentford, UK) may prove effective against a deadly form of pancreatic cancer when used together with other immune-boosting therapies.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is the most common form of pancreatic cancer. Each year, it strikes over 50,000 Americans and kills almost all of them. There are few treatment options currently available and these focus either on pain relief or surgery and radiation therapy to prolong life.

Current results in mice and lab-grown human tumor cells showed that GSK547 helps another drug class––checkpoint inhibitors––to aggressively combat tumor cells seeking to escape notice. The survival rate of mice with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma who received the GSK547 combination doubled to 50 days, whereas mice who received only checkpoint inhibitors lived for 25 days.

GSK547 and GSK095 work by blocking the action of receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1, or RIP1. This enzyme regulates immune cells called macrophages that home in on tumors, but then change into a type of cell that suppresses the immune response. These macrophages are unable to turn on "killer" T cells, which would normally attack the cancer cells.

A phase I clinical trial is expected to begin in November using GSK 095, a version of GSK547 meant for safe testing in humans. If trials are successful, it could be very promising for many people who have end-stage disease.

Source:, November 12, 2018.

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