Pancreatic Cancer From Mouse To Man: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

SAN ANTONIO, TX. (KFSN) -- Pancreatic cancer causes the deaths of 95 percent of the people diagnosed with it. Chemotherapy helps but is only able to extend survival for a few months. Now, researchers have a new tool allowing them to much more accurately study how the cancer develops.

It's a tough role reversal for this retired anesthesiologist. Inocencio Davila, MD, is now a patient with pancreatic cancer, following a bout with renal cancer.

"Next thing you know, I started getting jaundice, that's when I started getting concerned. She said, well you know what they say about painless jaundice and I said I know, but I don't really want to hear that," Davila said.

Davila is now on an aggressive treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiation to prolong his life.

Sukeshi Arora, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Mays Cancer Center and UT Health San Antonio, said, "So, chemotherapies are getting better to improve those numbers, but we have a long way to go."

Enter researcher Bruno Doiron. Bruno Doiron, Ph.D., Biomedical Researcher, Department of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio is developing a new technology that allows pancreatic tumors in mice to develop with the same traits as human pancreatic cancer.

"I use the mutation found in pancreatic cancer found in humans so that mimics more randomly what's happening in the cancer development." Doiron said. (Read Full Interview)

Doiron injects a modified virus into the mouse. That virus delivers two human cancer genetic mutations into the mouse pancreas. The human-like cancers that develop give researchers an effective way to test new drugs. It's a finding that's applauded by patients like Davila.

"Without that how can we find a treatment for the cancer that we have." Davila said.

A U.S. patent is pending on the gene delivery technology developed by Doiron.

Obesity and diabetes are major risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Researchers say the new technology can be used to examine this link.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Will Sansom, PR, UT Health San Antonio

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