Clever drugs for clever cancers

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to treat and is still associated with a dismal prognosis, despite decades of research.

A key driver behind the poor response seen with many chemotherapies and targeted agents evaluated in this setting is thought to be the stroma, which acts as a mechanical barrier to stop drug penetration and also hinder neovascularization, creating a hypoxic micro-environment.

At the forefront of current research in pancreatic cancer is the need to better understand both the tumour and stroma, and to identify and evaluate agents capable of mounting a dual-pronged attack. Presentations at this year’s ESMO include the latest research findings in pancreatic cancer, some of which look set to bring a glimmer of hope to advancing treatment in this field. Among these, Dr Mitesh Borad from the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, will present findings from an openlabel, multi-centre study evaluating the efficacy and safety of adding TH-302 to gemcitabine in patients with previously untreated, advanced pancreatic cancer.

TH-302 is a novel anticancer agent that is converted to bromo-isophosphoramide mustard (Br-IPM), a potent DNA alkylator, under hypoxic conditions, thereby selectively targeting hypoxic tumour cells. In contrast, there is reduced drugassociated toxicity to surrounding healthy tissue since TH-302 remains inactive under normoxic conditions.

In this 3-arm study, the efficacy and safety of two different doses of TH-302 in combination with gemcitabine was compared with gemcitabine alone. Key outcomes, including progression-free survival and overall survival, will be presented by Dr Borad in his presentation, which will take place at 10:15 today.

Session Info: Proffered Papers, gastrointestinal tumours, non-colorectal
Moderators: Professor Emmanuel Mitry and PD Dr Gunnar Folprecht
Day/Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 Time: 09:15 – 10:45

Abstract 666O: TH-302 + gemcitabine (G+T) vs gemcitabine (G) in patients with previously untreated advanced pancreatic cancer (pac)
Presenter: Dr Mitesh Borad, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA