Allergy drug could fight pancreatic cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

A widely-used anti-allergy drug could also prove successful in fighting pancreatic cancer, researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in the US have claimed.

Pre-clinical trials have suggested that cromolyn could be effective against pancreatic cancer and may also increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy when the two are combined.

The finding could be a promising development in the fight against pancreatic cancer, which is notoriously difficult to treat.

"Our goal is to offer longer life to these patients, and the combination of these two agents may well do that," said lead author Professor Craig Logsdon.

When cromolyn was given to mice alongside chemotherapy drug gemcitabine it was shown to reduce tumour growth by 85 per cent, said the study.

It also reduced tumour growth by 70 per cent when used alone, compared to a 50 per cent reduction for gemcitabine alone.

Researchers said the drug interfered with a protein produced by cancer cells that regulates their ability to grow, spread and survive.

Professor Logsdon added that he believed the drug may have additional anti-tumour effects and is currently preparing for trials with pancreatic cancer patients.

"For me this is pretty thrilling," he said. "In a relatively short time, we have gone all the way from discovering a molecule to preparations for a clinical trial."

The research is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.