“We’ve discovered a drug-targetable biomarker (phosphatidylserine) for pancreatic cancer cells in previous studies, and one of the first line treatments for advanced pancreatic cancer is chemotherapy, but it only provides marginal improvements for patients. We wanted to see if we could use the current first line treatment in combination with the novel nanovesicle drug delivery to improve outcomes.”
In the early 2000s, Qi developed SapC-DOPS, a combination of a cell protein, SapC, and a phospholipid, DOPS, that assembled into tiny cavities can selectively target cells and deliver therapies while sparing all other unaffected cells and tissues. In the past, he has studied that nanovesicle in cancer animal models looking at brain, lung, skin, prostate, blood, breast and pancreatic cancers. It is currently being studied in clinical trials for brain cancers.
In this study, researchers used both animal models and human cancer cells to test this theory and found that the combination of these therapies together helped to target the biomarker on cancer cell surface at various points in their life cycle, ultimately inhibiting tumor growth and potentially increasing survival, in comparison to the treatments alone.
“This study shows that the combination treatment using the nanovesicles and a standard chemotherapy could be beneficial for patients with pancreatic cancer, possibly extending lives and helping a subset of patients with cancer that don’t have many options,” Qi says.
Featured image at top: Xiaoyang Qi, PhD, working in his lab in the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand