Emerging drugs in the treatment of pancreatic cancer

Devalingam Mahalingam, Kevin R. Kelly, Ronan T. Swords, Jennifer Carew, Steffan T. Nawrocki, Francis J. Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the US. However, there is a growing belief that novel biological agents could improve survival of patients with this cancer. Gemcitabine-based chemotherapy remains the cornerstone treatment for advanced pancreatic cancers. So far, the current targeted agents that have been used in combination with gemcitabine have failed to improve clinical outcomes. This failure may stem from the heterogeneous molecular pathogenesis of pancreatic cancers, which involves several oncogenic pathways and defined genetic mutations. Objective: The aims of this review are: i) to define the existing treatments available at present for patients with pancreatic cancers in the neo-adjuvant, adjuvant, locally advanced and metastatic settings; ii) to highlight the molecular heterogeneity of the cancers and the rationale for targeting specific oncogenic pathways; iii) to give an overview of targeted agents that may potentially have an impact in the treatment of pancreatic cancers. Conclusions: Molecular pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer involves several pathways and defined genetic mutations. Targeting these complex molecular pathways with a combination of novel biological and chemotherapeutic agents could potentially improve patient outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-328
Number of pages18
JournalExpert Opinion on Emerging Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis and hedgehog pathway
  • EGFR
  • HDAC
  • IGF-1R
  • K-Ras
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • STAT3
  • Targeted therapies
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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