Treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer (pancreatic ductal adnocarcionoma or PDA) has seen progress in recent years, but outcomes remain poor and treatment advances that can prolong patients’ lives, even for a few months, are eagerly awaited. Two papers, just published online on March 4, 2019 in Nature Medicine (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0368-8) (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0367-9), suggest that a new combination of two existing drugs (an autophagy inhibitor and an inhibitor of the downstream metabolic pathway activated by mutated KRAS), which are both already FDA-approved for other conditions, may significantly delay progression of pancreatic cancer in human PDA cells in vitro and in PDA-derived tumors in mice. Furthermore, the first patient treated with this combination experienced a prolonged response that lasted almost six months. In light of these promising results, Cancer Commons (https://www.cancercommons.org/) is partnering with xCures (https://www.xcures.com/) to track the experiences of patients who choose to try this new combination therapy. This effort is particularly relevant given the March 6 announcement by TV Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The two Nature Medicine studies came from The Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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