Combination Therapy Including Vitamin A Proves to be Safe for Pancreatic Cancer Patients, Clinical Trial Shows

Jan, 2021 - By WMR

Combination Therapy Including Vitamin A Proves to be Safe for Pancreatic Cancer Patients, Clinical Trial Shows

According to the early phase clinical trial piloted by the researchers of Queen Mary University of London have reported that the combination therapy including current standard treatment regimen for pancreatic cancer with a form of vitamin A is efficient and safe for pancreatic cancer patients. Moreover, it is evident from various sources that around 10,300 new pancreatic cancer cases are reported to be diagnosed in the U.K. each year and has the lowest survival rate among all common cancers. In addition, radiotherapy and chemotherapy alone are insufficient in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Researchers informed that the phase I trial is called STARPAC. In the STARPAC, it was observed that using ATRA to treat stellate cells within pancreatic tumors, constrained tumor growth. Stellate cells play an important role in normal tissue formation, however they become degraded in cancer and further aids in creating an impermeable obstacle known as the ‘stroma’ around the pancreatic tumor.

Researchers also informed that when stellate cells were treated with ATRA (a pre-existing drug used for the treatment of acne and some types of leukemia) it restored the vitamin A content of the cells, altering them from tumor-promoting cells to cells that have an anti-cancer effect. Later researchers combined this drug with chemotherapy and were able to interrupt the interaction between the cancer cells and the adjacent stromal cells, which further diminished cancer cell invasion and proliferation. In addition researchers also suggested that the addition of ATRA to standard chemotherapy exhibited no harmful side effects in patients, in comparison to the standard chemotherapy alone.

Hemant Kocher, Professor of Liver and Pancreas Surgery at Queen Mary's Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) stated, “It is pleasing to demonstrate that changes in the stroma (or scar tissue) surrounding cancer can be used to potentially change pancreatic cancer behavior. This proof-of-principle that the stroma can be targeted in patients is a novel and exciting discovery, and this approach may also be able to be applied to other cancers and diseases where the stroma performs a critical role in disease progression.”

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