(HealthDay News) – The efficacy of gemcitabine in treating pancreatic cancer can be greatly improved by a second drug that increases gemcitabine levels by preventing its breakdown, according to a study published online February 28 in Cancer Discovery.

Using a mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, Kristopher K. Frese, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, investigated the efficacy and mechanism of action of nanoparticle albumin-bound-paclitaxel combined with gemcitabine.

The researchers found that the combination treatment led to greater tumor regression and reduced tumor metastasis compared with gemcitabine alone. The increased efficacy was due to an increase in gemcitabine levels, which was due to a marked decrease in cytidine deaminase, which metabolizes gemcitabine. Paclitaxel degraded cytidine deaminase via reactive oxygen species.

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“These data uncover novel insight into the antitumor activity of nanoparticle albumin-bound-paclitaxel and provide a distinct mechanism for improving gemcitabine delivery to pancreatic tumors that warrants further investigation in the clinical setting,” Frese and colleagues conclude.

Paclitaxel concentrations were measured by an employee at Abraxis Bioscience.

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