Research ArticleCancer

Transient tissue priming via ROCK inhibition uncouples pancreatic cancer progression, sensitivity to chemotherapy, and metastasis

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Science Translational Medicine  05 Apr 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 384, eaai8504
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8504

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ROCK-ing pancreatic cancer to the core

Pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly and difficult-to-treat tumor types in patients, usually has a dense stroma that can be difficult for drugs to penetrate. Stromal characteristics can also affect multiple other aspects of tumor biology, including metastatic spread, vascular supply, and immune response. Vennin et al. used Fasudil, a drug that inhibits a protein called ROCK and is already used for some conditions in people, to demonstrate the feasibility including short-term tumor stroma remodeling as part of cancer treatment. In genetically engineered and patient-derived mouse models of pancreatic cancer, priming with Fasudil disrupted the tumors’ extracellular matrix and improved the effectiveness of subsequent treatment with standard-of-care chemotherapy for this disease.