Monthly Archives: March 2015

10 Cancer Clinical Trial Facts Every Patient Should Know

Extraordinary scientific advances have been made in the last few decades in the fight against cancer. Translating these breakthroughs into clinical progress will significantly impact treatment for cancer patients.

But how much progress we make depends largely on patients’ willingness to participate in clinical trials and physicians’ encouragement of clinical trials as a treatment option.

For pancreatic cancer, for example, there are few effective treatment options. This makes clinical trial participation for this cancer vital to the research in which scientists are seeking new and better treatments.

Lack of awareness of trials, and low prioritization of clinical trials by physicians and patients facing cancer, contribute to low enrollment rates. Whether they’re reluctant to participate or unaware of the opportunities, physicians and cancer patients should not ignore clinical trials. People who are willing to be a part of this process will help us find new diagnostics and treatment options — for themselves and other cancer patients.

Here are 10 things you might not know about clinical trials:

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*credit verbatim via and Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, is vice president of scientific and medical affairs at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network*

Nanotechnology Platform Shows Promise for Treating Pancreatic Cancer


Scientists at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have combined their nanotechnology expertise to create a new treatment that may solve some of the problems of using chemotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer.

The study, published online in the journal ACS Nano (“Use of a Lipid-Coated Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticle Platform for Synergistic Gemcitabine and Paclitaxel Delivery to Human Pancreatic Cancer in Mice”), describes successful experiments to combine two drugs within a specially designed mesoporous silica nanoparticle that looks like a glass bubble. The drugs work together to shrink human pancreas tumors in mice as successfully as the current standard treatment, but at one twelfth the dosage. This lower dosage could reduce both the cost of treatment and the side effects that people suffer from the current method.

The study was led by Dr. Huan Meng, assistant adjunct professor of medicine, and Dr. Andre Nel, distinguished professor of medicine, both at the Jonsson Cancer Center.

Pancreatic cancer, a devastating disease with a five-year survival rate of 5 percent, is difficult to detect early and symptoms do not usually appear until the disease is advanced. As a result, many people are not diagnosed until their tumors are beyond the effective limits of surgery, leaving chemotherapy as the only viable treatment option. The chemotherapy drug most often used for pancreas cancer is gemcitabine, but its impact is often limited.

Recent research has found that combining gemcitabine with another drug called paclitaxel can improve the overall treatment effect. In the current method, Abraxane — a nano complex containing paclitaxel — and gemcitabine are given separately, which works to a degree, but because the drugs may stay in the body for different lengths of time, the combined beneficial effect is not fully synchronized.

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*credit verbatim via*

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Could Bitter Melon Help In The Difficult Battle Against Pancreatic Cancer?


Bitter melon or Momordica charantia is a plant that grows extensively across many areas of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. It comes in many varieties, each producing wartly, oblong fruit known for it’s extremely bitter taste. Around 32 active chemicals have been identified in the juice of bitter melon to date, including beta-sitosterol-d-glucoside, citrulline, GABA, lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin. They are also a great source of vitamins and minerals, with, 100 grams of bitter melon containing calcium (19 mg), carbohydrates (4 g), copper (0.034 mg), dietary fiber (3 g), dietary folate (72 mcg), folate (72 mcg), food folate (5.6 mcg), iron (0.43 mg), magnesium (17 mg), manganese (0.089 mg), Pantothenic Acid (0.212 mcg), phosphorus (31 mg), potassium ( 296 mg), protein (1 g), selenium (0.2 mcg), sodium (5 mg), Vitamins A, B, C, E, K, and zinc (0.8 mg).

Also, the USDA National Nutrient database states that, 100 grams of bitter melon contains 17 Kcal of energy, 0.17g total fat, niacin (0.400 mg), pyridoxine (0.043 g), Riboflavin (0.040 mg), and Thiamin (0.040 mg).

Natural Remedies

Bitter melon has long been used as a natural remedy for fever, burns, chronic coughs, painful menstrual cramps and minor skin conditions, with some areas claiming that it can prevent and treat malaria. But more recently it has been found to have a positive affect on the regulation of insulin, which could be promising to advance the treatments of both diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to treat, partly because it is often discovered later than other forms of cancer. Prognosis of pancreatic cancer is extremely poor, suggesting critical needs for additional drugs to improve disease outcome. Traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not often particularly successful in treating this type of cancer. This has led scientists to look elsewhere for therapies that can assist in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

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*credit verbatim via and Lisa Fanfa*

IV Vitamin C Doubles Survival Time of Pancreatic Cancer Patients


A small Phase I clinical trial in the USA has just shown that adding IV (intravenous) vitamin C to gemcitabine, a common chemo drug for pancreatic cancer extended patients’ average survival time to 12 months, compared to historical survival times of 5.65 months for such patients. More remarkable is that three of the patients were still alive at the end of the trial (two at 15 months, one at 29 months survival time) which means overall survival could further increase.

Phase I trial to test IV vitamin C together with standard chemo

Pancreatic cancer strikes 44,000 Americans every year and is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the USA. Despite conventional medicine’s best efforts, the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer remains tragically high at 80 percent in the first year after diagnosis. Because of this, doctors have started looking to complementary, natural treatments as a means of improving patients’ prognosis—and IV vitamin C has now done exactly that with remarkable, clinically demonstrated results.

Doctors at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine ran a Phase I study in which 50 to 125 grams of vitamin C were infused into patients once per week on a weekly cycle. Gemcitabine, a standard chemo drug for pancreatic cancer, was also administered on a weekly cycle as per normal. The average treatment duration was six months (range: 60 to 556 days) during which patients lost an average of only five kilograms, which is much less than expected. Side effects of the IV vitamin C treatment were generally mild and included diarrhea and dry mouth. Apart from increasing survival time to 12 months, the IV vitamin C therapy also increased progression-free survival to 26 weeks (12.7 weeks have been reported in other trials). The researchers did not report on overall tumor size development except for one patient who experienced a dramatic nine-fold reduction in the size of the primary tumor after four months of treatment.

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*credit verbatim via*