University of Louisville Showcases New Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Sep 1, 2019 | Irreversible Electroporation, Pancreatic Cancer

Diagnosis pancreatic cancer written in the diagnostic form and pills.

The University of Louisville is conducting a study to showcase a new approach to treating pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer. The new study appears to be showing positive results thus far with the use of irreversible electroporation (IRE). The overall mean survival has increased from 13 months to about 30.5 months.

Brooke Hasch wiring for WHAS11 reports that pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers and doctors report it is only going to get worse. Although usually detected at later states, new therapy focused on locally advanced pancreatic cancer is revealing positive results in studies.

The Study

The study is a Phase I study in which all patients undergo IRE for the treatment of locally advanced pancreatic carcinoma will receive either FOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine as peri-ablation treatment. The sponsor, University of Louisville, Kentucky seeks 20 participants—the study will run through till 2023.

The principal investigator, Dr. Robert Marin, with UofL’s surgical oncology department, is conducting a study using “Irreversible electroporation” or IRE, a procedure which uses electrical currents to damage and destroys cancer cells which cannot be surgically removed. He notes “This is the best the country’s got.”

The study calls for a weekly procedure and patients are living longer as a direct result—in some cases up to two more years. Although “not great” Dr. Martin notes two more years can be quite a lot of time.

The Results

Thus far the study results review the overall medium survival rates has increased from 13 months to 30.5 months. Dr. Martin of UofL notes a decade ago for many with pancreatic cancer they would have already died.

What is IRE?

Irreversible electroporation is a soft tissue ablation technique using ultrashort but strong electrical fields to create permanent and hence lethal nanopores in the cell membrane, to disrupt the cellular homeostasis. The resulting cell death results from apoptosis and not necrosis as in all other thermal or radiation-based ablation techniques. The main use of IRE lies in tumor ablation in regions where precision and conservation of the extracellular matrix, blood flow and nerves are of importance. The technique, in the form of the NanoKnife System, became commercially available for research purposes in 2009, solely for the surgical ablation of soft tissue tumors.

Pancreatic Cancer

A deadly form of cancer. It is difficult to detect often until it is too late. Close to 46,000 people will lose their lives this year because of this cancer. Dr. Martin doesn’t believe that there is enough research attention on pancreatic cancer.

Lead Research/Investigator

Dr. Robert Marin

Call to Action: Do you have a loved one with pancreatic cancer? This is a dangerous form of cancer and although the study here isn’t great the results are promising and should be considered. If you are part of a research project looking into pancreatic cancer it may be worthwhile to connect with Dr. Martin.