Pancreatic cancer is almost universally associated with a poor prognosis, in part because the tumors are resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs. Working with a mouse tumor model that displays many features of the human disease, Olive et al. (see Perspective by Olson and Hanahan) found that the tumors were poorly vascularized, a factor likely to impede drug delivery. Treatment of the mice with the chemotherapeutic drug gemcitabine in combination with a drug that depletes tumor-associated stromal tissue led to an increase in tumor vasculature, enhanced delivery of gemcitabine, and a delay in disease progression. Thus, drugs targeting the tumor stroma may merit investigation as a way to enhance the efficacy of conventional chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.
K. P. Olive, M. A. Jacobetz, C. J. Davidson, A. Gopinathan, D. McIntyre, D. Honess, B. Madhu, M. A. Goldgraben, M. E. Caldwell, D. Allard, K. K. Frese, G. DeNicola, C. Feig, C. Combs, S. P. Winter, H. Ireland-Zecchini, S. Reichelt, W. J. Howat, A. Chang, M. Dhara, L. Wang, F. Rückert, R. Grützmann, C. Pilarsky, K. Izeradjene, S. R. Hingorani, P. Huang, S. E. Davies, W. Plunkett, M. Egorin, R. H. Hruban, N. Whitebread, K. McGovern, J. Adams, C. Iacobuzio-Donahue, J. Griffiths, D. A. Tuveson, Inhibition of Hedgehog signaling enhances delivery of chemotherapy in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. Science 324, 1457–1461 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]