Strengthening the Efficacy of Chemotherapy in Treating Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers from Mayo Clinic have uncovered a more effective method for enhancing chemotherapy’s efficacy in treating pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The findings were published in Clinical Cancer Research.

PDAC is often resistant to chemotherapy. As such, researchers have sought to find new ways of intensifying tumor sensitivity to cancer-fighting therapies.

“Many pancreatic cancer tumors are resistant to the two most commonly used chemotherapies,” says Li Ding, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic senior research fellow and the study’s lead author in a press release. “Thus, identifying ways in which to make resistant tumors sensitive, or to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy, is vital.”

To conduct this study, researchers treated pancreatic cancer cell lines and patient-derived tumor samples using a new GSK-3 inhibitor, called 9-ING-41, both alone and in conjunction with chemotherapy. The results showed that the GSK-3 inhibitor notably increased pancreatic tumor cancer cell death and prolonged survival in tumor-bearing models when combined with chemotherapy.

“Our study identified a previously unknown role for GSK-3 in the regulation of the cell’s ability to respond to and repair its DNA following chemotherapy,” says Dr. Billadeau, professor of immunology, biochemistry and molecular biology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. “The findings suggest that by inhibiting GSK-3, we can impede the cells’ DNA damage response, leading to synergistic tumor cell death even in cells that are naturally resistant to chemotherapy.”