New drug aims to slow spread of pancreatic cancer
CANCER DIGEST – Nov. 18, 2023 – Scientists have found a drug that disrupts the genetic changes that strengthen pancreatic cancer cells as they migrate to the liver. The study results were published online ahead of the Nov. 28, 2023 journal Cell Reports.
The researchers say their next step is to initiate a clinical trial to test the drug’s safety and effectiveness in humans.
Researchers led by Darren Carpizo, MD, PhD chief of Surgical Oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, revealed through decades of investigation that one of the things that makes pancreatic cancer so deadly is that it begins to spread, or metastasize very early, and as it migrates from the pancreas to the liver the cancer cells undergo a genetic alteration of the gene Netrin-1.
This gene, which has been linked to colon and breast cancer as well, drives a complex mechanism that strengthens the cancer cells resistance to cancer therapy and activates specific liver cells, called hepatic stellate cells, which are involved in the development of liver fibrosis that can make the liver more hospitable to cancer.
In mouse studies, Carpizo's team tested a drug, called NP137, that suppresses Netrin-1, causing tumor cell death and making the pancreatic cancer less likely to spread.
The researchers are currently designing a clinical trial to test NP137 in humans. The trial will likely require eligible patients to undergo two rounds of the drug before surgery to remove the cancer from the pancreas. Following surgery, patients will undergo additional doses of NP137 for up to six months.
NP137 is made by Netris Pharma, of Lyon, France, and is currently being tested in clinical trials in that country. Carpizo's study is part of a larger collaboration at Wilmot involving the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Cancer Microenvironment Research Program at the university.
The study was funded in part by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which urges pancreatic patients to talk to their oncologists about clinical trials at every stage of their disease.
Source: University of Rochester Medical Center press release