It can be difficult for chemotherapies to reach cancer cells because access is often restricted by poor vasculature and high pressure within tumors.
This lowers efficacy. But new interim results from a phase 2 clinical study of metastatic pancreatic cancer patients gives new hope that lowering the hydrostatic pressure within tumors can improve drug access to cancer cells.
High amounts of tumor hyaluronic acid (HA) is a marker for poor prognosis in pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal malignancies. It absorbs water and leads to higher tumor pressure, reducing drug penetration. The enzyme PEGPH20 breaks down HA. Given in combination with standard chemotherapy, it appears to double progression-free survival to an average of 9.2 months from 4.3 months on chemo alone in high HA tumors. Final results will be available upon study completion in 2016.