Using two types of drugs at once may combat hard-to-treat pancreatic cancer.
The approach looks promising after a recent study successfully tested it on pancreatic cancer cells and mice in the laboratory.
The researchers who led the study work at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.
They hope that the findings will generate new options for treating pancreatic cancer, a disease that typically has a poor prognosis.
In the United States, only around 8.5 percent of people live more than 5 years after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
The journal Nature Medicine has recently published a paper on the new findings.
First author Kirsten Bryant, Ph.D., who is a research assistant professor at UNC, says that it is early days and there is still a lot of work to do. There are questions to address and human clinical trials of drug safety and effectiveness to conduct.
However, she remains cautiously optimistic, especially as another team has recently come to a similar conclusion in a different study.
"This may not cure pancreatic cancer, but it's another step toward more treatment options," Bryant remarks.
Pancreatic cancer and autophagy
The pancreas is a large, flat organ that sits deep inside the abdomen behind the stomach. It produces enzymes and hormones that help to digest food and control blood sugar.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pancreatic cancer is one of the "10 most common cancers" that arise in both men and women in the U.S.