A world-first drug may provide the breakthrough for people battling brain and pancreatic cancer

AUSTRALIA – The University of South Australia (UniSA) has discovered a new drug candidate to treat two of the most lethal forms of cancer; glioblastoma, and pancreatic cancer.

Researchers from the University of South Australia believe a new drug, Auceliciclib, could be a game changer for approximately 500,000 patients affected by brain cancer.

Although glioblastoma is rare, affecting only three out of every 100,000 adults each year, most people survive only 12-15 months after diagnosis with current standard care.

Auceliciclib, which comes in pill form, is already showing promise in clinical trials as a new treatment for glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, for which there is currently no cure.

Prof Wang, a world-renowned cancer researcher, is now looking for pancreatic cancer patients to participate in a clinical trial of the drug.

Both of these cancers have an unsettling reputation for being among the most difficult to treat, with low survival rates and late diagnosis.

Each form of the disease has a low survival rate, and doctors rarely diagnose these cancers until they are advanced.

Because there are few symptoms, pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose at an early stage,” Prof Wang says.

The National Cancer Institute currently estimates that 60,430 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed in 2021, resulting in over 48,000 deaths. Only 10% of pancreatic cancer patients survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

A malignant tumor can be surgically removed if caught early, but once it spreads into other organs, it is lethal, and chemotherapy and radiotherapy only buy patients a little more time.

He also notes that brain cancer is particularly difficult to treat because very few drugs can cross the blood-brain barrier and those that do cause serious side effects.

Many cancers are driven by a family of enzymes called cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), Auceliciclib has been specifically designed to target CDK activity.

Auceliciclib was developed to specifically target CDK4/6 enzymes, which have impaired function in pancreatic cancer, making it more effective and with fewer side effects than current therapy.

The cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors are rapidly transforming this treatment landscape.

There are currently three CDK4/6 inhibitors that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration: Palbociclib, Ribociclib, and Abemaciclib.

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