New research from Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah is giving new hope to patients with pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is very aggressive and very difficult to treat. Only seven percent of patients survive after five years.
Gordon Chamberlain was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer five months ago.
“I was already stage four,” he said. “It had metastasized into my liver and lungs.”
The cancer was already spreading through his body. He was fatigued, jaundiced and had no appetite. Standard chemotherapy wasn’t working, and he felt terrible side effects.
Several weeks ago he found out he was eligible and enrolled in a clinical trial and started taking two medications by mouth.
“It was certainly a ray of hope because the basic chemotherapy was not going to work,” Chamberlain said.
“Pancreas cancer is a silent killer,” said Dr. Martin McMahon, an HCI Cancer Researcher and lead on the study. “Most of the patients who are diagnosed with the disease are diagnosed when the disease is already quite advanced. So you’re fighting a battle against a very aggressive, very malignant, very challenging disease.”
In research published today in Nature Medicine Dr. McMahon and Dr. Conan Kinsey, a HCI Physician-Scientist, shared a pancreatic cancer treatment that has already improved Chamberlain’s life, and extended the life of another patient.
The researchers combined two drugs, already FDA approved, to come up with a treatment that kills pancreatic cancer cells in the Petri dish, in mice, and in one patient, so far.