By Matthew Roscoe • 08 February 2022 • 10:54
A ‘major breakthrough’ could be near for pancreatic cancer treatment, according to British scientists. Researchers have been looking for a more effective treatment for almost 50 years as statistics show pancreatic causes around 9,400 deaths a year with little to no improvements made in survival rates.
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research in London believe they have had a major breakthrough by combining two treatments already used in hospitals. The new combination treatment is now being tested on mice.
The first treatment, which uses an immunotherapy drug that has had major success against some types of cancer, works up the immune system to fight cancer in the pancreas by blocking the protein that stops the immune system from attacking cancer cells.
However, because pancreatic cancer tumours have a thick outer layer that stops the drug from breaking through the barrier, researchers have found that a second treatment involving high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is also needed.
HIFU blasts the tumour with pulses of sound waves and creates small bubbles in the cells which bounce around vigorously and puncture holes in the protective barrier which allows the drug to work effectively.
The combination of treatments has shown that mice with pancreatic tumours have lived 25 per cent longer than those given just HIFU, and 35 per cent longer than those only given the drug. They also lived 40 per cent longer than those not treated at all, according to the Independent.
Dr Chris MacDonald, head of research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Further research is needed, but the potential of this combination is exciting and it underlines the importance of testing new, innovative approaches.
“More treatment options are desperately needed if we’re to transform survival for future patients and their loved ones,” he said.
If the human trials are successful, the treatments could be in widespread use within five years, according to researcher Dr Petros Mouratidis.
Researchers have been desperately searching for a cure for the disease which kills more than half of the 10,500 people with pancreatic cancer within three months of diagnosis – with only one in four living for a year or longer.
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]
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