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AMD3100, a cure for pancreatic cancer 'could be available within ten years', scientists claim
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- The drug has successfully cured mice - a human trial will start soon
By Emma Innes
PUBLISHED: 11:21 EST, 6 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:34 EST, 6 January 2014
Scientists believe they have found a possible cure for pancreatic cancer - the disease that Apple CEO Steve Jobs died of
A cure for pancreatic cancer could be on the horizon, according to researchers.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge believe they have found a treatment that could eradicate the disease in just one week.
Pancreatic cancer has few symptoms in its early stages and so is usually only diagnosed once it is too advanced to be tackled effectively.
As a result, it has one of the poorest prognoses of any cancer.
Doctors had struggled to defeat the illness using the body's own immune system - a method known as immunotherapy.
But researchers have recently discovered that this is because infected cells coat themselves in a ‘chemokine protein’ and form a protective barrier around the tumours.
Now, staff at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute have finally made a breakthrough that could one day lead to a cure.
A new drug called AMD3100 - also known as Plerixafor - could be used to help block the formation of the protein and break down the cancer's barrier.
The body's ‘T cells’ - which attack the cancerous cells - are then able to break through and fight the tumour.
Researchers had been testing the drug on mice but now feel it is ready to be tested on humans - with a cure potentially available within the next ten years.
Dr Douglas Fearon, from the research institute, has now claimed the breakthrough could be the first step towards a cure for many forms of the disease.
He said: ‘We want to get the clinical trial on humans started up as soon as we can as it was so successful on mice.
‘By enabling the body to use its own defences to attack cancer, this approach has the potential to greatly improve treatment of solid tumours.
‘The best possible scenario is that it will cause regression to a large proportion against pancreatic cancer.
Experts at the University of Cambridge say the drug they have created could cure the disease (pictured) in just one week - they think it also has the potential to cure other cancers, such as lung and ovarian cancers
‘And that is not just restricted to pancreatic cancer but would be effective in many forms, including ovarian and lung cancer because they react similarly.
‘This could potentially cure cancer, and save all those lives lost each year to the disease.’
Clinical trials are expected to take place in six months at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death in the UK and the eighth most common worldwide.
Tumour removal is the most effective treatment, but it is suitable for just one in five patients.
It affects men and women equally, and is most common in people over the age of 60.
Fewer than 20 per cent of pancreatic cancer patients are currently still alive a year after diagnosis and less than four per cent survive for five years.