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New Pancreatic Cancer Drug in the Works

Experimental Drug AMG 479 Reduces Pancreatic Tumor Growth in Lab Tests on Mice; Human Studies Under Way
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 14, 2009 -- An experimental drug called AMG 479 shows promise against pancreatic cancer.

That news comes from researchers at Amgen, the drug company developing AMG 479.

AMG 479 is a biologic drug that targets insulin-like growth factor (IGF) type 1 receptors.

"We know that insulin-like growth factors play a role in cancer development, particularly in mediating cell survival," Amgen's Pedro Beltran, PhD, states in a news release from the American Association of Cancer Research.

In lab tests, AMG 479 did what it was supposed to do -- target insulin-like growth receptors on pancreatic cancer cells without hampering insulin.

"This is the first drug that specifically targets the receptor for these growth factors without cross-reacting with the closely related insulin receptor," Beltran states.

In other experiments, AMG 479 curbed the growth of human pancreatic tumors grafted onto mice by up to 80%, and using AMG 479 and the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine thwarted pancreatic tumors further.

Beltran's team reports the results from those experiments in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

AMG 479 is being studied in pancreatic cancer patients; results aren't in from that study yet.

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