Swedish drug developer Kancera says it has slowed the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors in preclinical animal trials with its first-generation PFKFB3 inhibitors.
The drug initially failed to work in an animal study involving human colon cancer, according to the company.
By blocking PFKFB3, the idea is to reduce the metabolism of the cancer tumors and starve its energy/food supply. PFKFB3 is believed to support cancer growth because it enables production of glucose, which cancer craves. Kancera claims that the drug generated a 20% reduction in pancreatic cancer tumor growth versus placebo treatment. That may not sound like a lot, but as the company notes, patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have a less than 2% survival rate 5 years after the diagnosis. And so Kancera insists that the initial promise PFKFB inhibitors show in reducing pancreatic cancer growth is license to proceed.
"That PFKFB inhibitors alone can reduce the growth of pancreatic cancer is very encouraging," CEO Thomas Olin said in a statement.
Kancera's initial results are encouraging but they're a long way from human trials. Coming next will be a bid to improve the drug properties of the company's PFKFB inhibitors and test how well they work to combat tumor growth combined with standard pancreatic cancer therapy.
Kancera isn't the only company targeting PFKFB3, whose full name is 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3. Advanced Cancer Therapeutics is developing a possible brain cancer treatment with the same enzyme target in mind.
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