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      Pancreatic cancer: from state-of-the-art treatments to promising novel therapies.

      1 , 2

      Nature reviews. Clinical oncology

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          Abstract

          Pancreatic cancer is expected to be the second deadliest malignancy in the USA by 2020. The survival rates for patients with other gastrointestinal malignancies have increased consistently during the past 30 years; unfortunately, however, the outcomes of patients with pancreatic cancer have not changed significantly. Although surgery remains the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer, therapeutic strategies based on initial resection have not substantially improved the survival of patients with resectable disease over the past 25 years; presently, more than 80% of patients suffer disease relapse after resection. Preclinical evidence that pancreatic cancer is a systemic disease suggests a possible benefit for early administration of systemic therapy in these patients. In locally advanced disease, the role of chemoradiotherapy is increasingly being questioned, particularly considering the results of the LAP-07 trial. Novel biomarkers are clearly needed to identify subsets of patients likely to benefit from chemoradiotherapy. In the metastatic setting, FOLFIRINOX (folinic acid, 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin), and nab-paclitaxel plus gemcitabine have yielded only modest improvements in survival. Thus, new treatments are urgently needed for patients with pancreatic cancer. Herein, we review the state-of-the-art of pancreatic cancer treatment, and the upcoming novel therapeutics that hold promise in this disease are also discussed.

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          Most cited references 105

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          Identification of pancreatic cancer stem cells.

          Emerging evidence has suggested that the capability of a tumor to grow and propagate is dependent on a small subset of cells within a tumor, termed cancer stem cells. Although data have been provided to support this theory in human blood, brain, and breast cancers, the identity of pancreatic cancer stem cells has not been determined. Using a xenograft model in which primary human pancreatic adenocarcinomas were grown in immunocompromised mice, we identified a highly tumorigenic subpopulation of pancreatic cancer cells expressing the cell surface markers CD44, CD24, and epithelial-specific antigen (ESA). Pancreatic cancer cells with the CD44(+)CD24(+)ESA(+) phenotype (0.2-0.8% of pancreatic cancer cells) had a 100-fold increased tumorigenic potential compared with nontumorigenic cancer cells, with 50% of animals injected with as few as 100 CD44(+)CD24(+)ESA(+) cells forming tumors that were histologically indistinguishable from the human tumors from which they originated. The enhanced ability of CD44(+)CD24(+)ESA(+) pancreatic cancer cells to form tumors was confirmed in an orthotopic pancreatic tail injection model. The CD44(+)CD24(+)ESA(+) pancreatic cancer cells showed the stem cell properties of self-renewal, the ability to produce differentiated progeny, and increased expression of the developmental signaling molecule sonic hedgehog. Identification of pancreatic cancer stem cells and further elucidation of the signaling pathways that regulate their growth and survival may provide novel therapeutic approaches to treat pancreatic cancer, which is notoriously resistant to standard chemotherapy and radiation.
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            Improved survival with MEK inhibition in BRAF-mutated melanoma.

            Activating mutations in serine-threonine protein kinase B-RAF (BRAF) are found in 50% of patients with advanced melanoma. Selective BRAF-inhibitor therapy improves survival, as compared with chemotherapy, but responses are often short-lived. In previous trials, MEK inhibition appeared to be promising in this population. In this phase 3 open-label trial, we randomly assigned 322 patients who had metastatic melanoma with a V600E or V600K BRAF mutation to receive either trametinib, an oral selective MEK inhibitor, or chemotherapy in a 2:1 ratio. Patients received trametinib (2 mg orally) once daily or intravenous dacarbazine (1000 mg per square meter of body-surface area) or paclitaxel (175 mg per square meter) every 3 weeks. Patients in the chemotherapy group who had disease progression were permitted to cross over to receive trametinib. Progression-free survival was the primary end point, and overall survival was a secondary end point. Median progression-free survival was 4.8 months in the trametinib group and 1.5 months in the chemotherapy group (hazard ratio for disease progression or death in the trametinib group, 0.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.33 to 0.63; P<0.001). At 6 months, the rate of overall survival was 81% in the trametinib group and 67% in the chemotherapy group despite crossover (hazard ratio for death, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.92; P=0.01). Rash, diarrhea, and peripheral edema were the most common toxic effects in the trametinib group and were managed with dose interruption and dose reduction; asymptomatic and reversible reduction in the cardiac ejection fraction and ocular toxic effects occurred infrequently. Secondary skin neoplasms were not observed. Trametinib, as compared with chemotherapy, improved rates of progression-free and overall survival among patients who had metastatic melanoma with a BRAF V600E or V600K mutation. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline; METRIC ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01245062.).
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              Stromal elements act to restrain, rather than support, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

              Sonic hedgehog (Shh), a soluble ligand overexpressed by neoplastic cells in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), drives formation of a fibroblast-rich desmoplastic stroma. To better understand its role in malignant progression, we deleted Shh in a well-defined mouse model of PDAC. As predicted, Shh-deficient tumors had reduced stromal content. Surprisingly, such tumors were more aggressive and exhibited undifferentiated histology, increased vascularity, and heightened proliferation--features that were fully recapitulated in control mice treated with a Smoothened inhibitor. Furthermore, administration of VEGFR blocking antibody selectively improved survival of Shh-deficient tumors, indicating that Hedgehog-driven stroma suppresses tumor growth in part by restraining tumor angiogenesis. Together, these data demonstrate that some components of the tumor stroma can act to restrain tumor growth. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat Rev Clin Oncol
                Nature reviews. Clinical oncology
                1759-4782
                1759-4774
                Jun 2015
                : 12
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Oncology, and Center for Investigational Therapeutics, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine, University of Utah, Suite 2100, 2000 Circle of Hope, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.
                [2 ] Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinical Research Unit, Clinical Research Program, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Calle de Melchor Fernández Almagro 3, 28029 Madrid, Spain.
                Article
                nrclinonc.2015.53
                10.1038/nrclinonc.2015.53
                25824606

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