Overall survival was significantly improved in patients with late-stage pancreatic cancer who received a new combination of cancer drugs compared with those who received standard treatment, according to the results of a phase III clinical trial.

Advanced pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat and diagnose, and it has the lowest survival rates among all cancer types.

A multicenter clinical trial had determined the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of nab-paclitaxel in combination with the standard drug gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Those results were encouraging enough that it led to one of the largest studies ever conducted in pancreatic cancer, involving 861 patients.

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Nab-paclitaxel is an albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel, which is produced by Celgene Corp. The results of the MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study will lead to Celgene submitting nab-paclitaxel for FDA approval for advanced pancreatic cancer.

“This is a great example of rapid bench to bedside development of new treatments for cancer. We’re ecstatic that we will have a new treatment for patients with late stage pancreatic cancer,” said Daniel Von Hoff, MD, international lead investigator and chief scientific officer for the Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen’s physician-in-chief.

“Pancreatic cancer incidence is increasing worldwide with almost 220,000 cases per year, and we are optimistic that this will have worldwide impact for treating advanced pancreatic cancer,” added Ramesh Ramanathan, MD, medical director of Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the United States.

The full results of this phase III trial are expected to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, January 24-26 in San Francisco, California.