Antiangiogenesis-induced changes in the tumour microenvironment: a window for therapeutic exploitation in pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest form of cancer, with an average life expectancy of three to six months after diagnosis. Surgical removal of the tumour is the only curative treatment, but the majority of patients have inoperable tumours. A promising treatment strategy for many cancers types is to kill blood vessels in tumours. When blood vessels are disrupted, the tumour becomes starved of nutrients and oxygen. Some success in has already been seen with two different types of drug treatment: drugs that act specifically on blood vessels, and standard anti-cancer drugs delivered at low but continuous doses. While these treatments are promising in the context of pancreatic cancer therapy, their specific effects on pancreatic tumours are unknown. Dr. Jennifer Flexman is studying the effects of both types of drug on tumour growth and blood vessels. Using a variety of imaging techniques and biological methods, she will investigate how the tumour microenvironment (e.g. blood flow, oxygen levels) is changed by antiangiogenic drug therapies. Experimental results could lead to a rational basis for selecting treatments that takes advantage of physiological changes in the tumour. Dr. Flexman hopes her research will ultimately lead to the development of novel and more effective treatments for a deadly and largely untreatable disease, with the end goal of improving the quality of life and prognosis for patients