Novel approaches to target pancreatic cancer.
ABSTRACT Despite remarkable progress that has been made in the recent years in the treatment of gastrointestinal tumors, in particular colorectal cancer, the prognosis of pancreatic cancer remains dismal. Five years after diagnosis almost all patients have died. At early stages of the disease surgery is the only modality to achieve long term survival. In the palliative setting gemcitabine confers some benefit to patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. A large number of chemotherapy combinations has been tested in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Only one combination showed significant improvement of survival, however also increased toxicity. The introduction of targeted therapies raised hopes for a better treatment of pancreatic cancer. However, most of the compounds tested so far failed to improve the survival of patients with pancreatic cancer. This review summarizes molecular targets examined so far in pancreatic cancer including matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors, farnesyltransferase inhibitors, vascular endothelial growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and points out novel promising strategies for this difficult-to-treat tumor.