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Scientists discover new route to boost pancreatic cancer treatment

2 June 2014

UK scientists have revealed fresh insight into how a the most common chemotherapy drug used to treat pancreatic cancer – gemcitabine – is broken down in tumour cells.

The research team, based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, have shown that gemcitabine interacts with an important sequence of chemical messages – known as the Kennedy Pathway – which cells use to make special fats.

The research, which is published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that gemcitabine is broken down in tumour cells by enzymes within the Kennedy Pathway, which might be an alternative way in which it works.

The findings also suggest that using linoleic acid in combination with gemcitabine increases the amount of gemcitabine in tumour cells, which may make it more effective.

Study author, Professor Duncan Jodrell, said: "Gemcitabine is one of the drugs that we use commonly to treat pancreatic cancer, but the number of patients who benefit from it is still relatively small. Improving our understanding of how gemcitabine interacts with cellular metabolism may allow us to develop combination treatments that improve outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer."

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