A new drug – MRK003, a gamma-secretase inhibitor – shows promise in new drug trial.
Pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer and the survival rate for patients is low. However, MRK003 has shown in early stage clinical trials that it can dramatically increase the survival rate of chemotherapy patients.
MRK003 is a gamma-secretase inhibitor, that means that it affects notch-stimulated pathways. MRK003 testing in patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma, showed that it was capable of inhibiting cancer cell proliferation (replication) and also induced a caspase cascade to lead to apoptosis.
Doctors then believed it could be used to treat pancreatic cancer.
The trial involved giving patients a chemotherapy drug known as gemcitabine, which when coupled with MRK003 is capable of inducing cell death in pancreatic cancer cells. This therapy is effective because it leaves the healthy cells unharmed unlike traditional cancer therapies.
Roughly 8,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year (according to Cancer Research UK). Usually there is a 6 month period between diagnosis and death – showing just how aggressive and deadly this cancer is. Another statistic: only 16% of patients survive past 12 months.
MRK003 can also be used with Akt1/2 kinase inhibitors to synergistically kill cancer cells in multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
This drug has various applications in cancer treatment and is very effective at doing so early on in it’s testing stages. Truly an invaluable find for the field of medicine and the human race.