The drug, which destroys a protective coating around the diseased cells, targets pancreatic cancer but could be just as effective at treating other kinds of tumours, researchers said. Developed by the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute researchers, the drug is known as AMD3100 or Plerixafor.
In tests on mice, virtually all tumours were wiped out within six days – the first time this has been achieved in pancreatic cancer research. “By enabling the body to use its own defences to attack cancer, this approach has the potential to greatly improve treatment of solid tumours,” said research leader Dr Douglas Fearon.
“That is not just restricted to pancreatic cancer but would be effective in many forms, including ovarian and lung cancer, because they react similarly,” Fearon said.
Pancreatic cancer is rarely detected early and is often too advanced to be treated, but researchers believe their new drug could work even with late diagnoses, ‘metro.co.uk’ reported. The drug breaks down a thick wall of chemokine protein which forms a protective barrier around pancreatic cancer cells and prevents the body’s T cells from breaking through to attack the tumour.
Plerixafor is used with other drugs which boost the helpful T cells’ activity. Human trials are expected to start later this year at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. If the trials are successful, the therapy could be available to patients within a decade.