"EndoTAG consists of charged particles that bind preferentially to the fast-growing endothelial cells [that line the interior] of new blood vessels being formed by tumors," Löhr said. "The drug, paclitaxel, is then released and thus directly reaches an important target in tumors, i.e., the vessels. Paclitaxel itself is not very efficient in pancreatic cancer."
The researchers followed patients for a year. They found that the EndoTAG-gemcitabine combination considerably extended patients' survival time, compared with standard therapy. Patients receiving gemcitabine alone survived an average of 7.2 months. But those treated repeatedly with the combination survived up to 13.6 months.
"These results are the best I have ever seen in palliative treatment in pancreatic cancer," Löhr said. "The results are really excellent, and a phase III study is in the making." A phase III clinical trial is one that studies a much larger patient group over a much longer duration in order to definitively determine the effectiveness and safety of a new pharmaceutical.