Biomedicine

Battling Pancreatic Cancer

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Science  09 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5506, pp. 949
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5506.949B

Adenocarcinomas of the pancreas are among the deadliest cancers because most are diagnosed at an advanced stage and there are no effective therapies. Jaffee et al. report early but promising results of a phase I trial of a pancreatic tumor vaccine. The vaccine was composed of pancreatic tumor cell lines genetically engineered to secrete granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, a cytokine that stimulates the immune system. There were no serious side effects in the 14 patients treated with the vaccine, and three of the patients showed evidence of an immune response to the tumor cells and enjoyed a longer disease-free survival time.

In independent work, Wagner et al. address an important problem that has restricted understanding of the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer—the absence of an animal model that mimics the human disease. These researchers report that mice that overexpress transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-α) and are deficient in the tumor suppressor protein p53 rapidly develop pancreatic tumors with histologic and molecular genetic features similar to those seen in human tumors. This new model may facilitate identification of the genetic and environmental forces that drive the growth and metastatic spread of human pancreatic tumors. — PAK

J. Clin. Oncol.19, 145 (2001); Genes Dev.15, 286 (2001).

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