A Phase III clinical trial in the US has shown that Abraxane plus gemcitabine is the first combination of drugs to extend the survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients.

The study was conducted by Virginia G Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

Their findings show that the drugs increased one-year median survival rates by 59% from less than a quarter of patients to more than a third.

The Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial is the largest Phase III clinical trial ever completed in advanced pancreatic cancer with more than 800 patients.

The two-year survival rate is less than 4%, but that more than doubles with the nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine combination, compared to gemcitabine alone, the current standard of care.

Abraxane is currently sold in the US by Abraxis BioScience and is a chemotherapy drug used in the treatment of breast cancer.

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By GlobalData

Chief scientific officer for Virginia G Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials Dr Daniel Von Hoff said he is "ecstatic" that the Abraxane plus gemcitabine has now been proven to increase survival rates for patients with stage IV pancreatic cancer.

"It once again demonstrates that laboratory science based medicine can make a difference for patients," said Von Hoff.

The Phase III trial also showed that there was no increase in life-threatening toxicity in patients taking Abraxane plus gemcitabine.

Principal investigator for the trial Ramesh Ramanathan said; "This is a major improvement in a cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types."

"Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is difficult to diagnose with a majority of the cases diagnosed at a late stage after the disease has already advanced."

Image: The incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing worldwide with an estimated 279,000 cases per year. Photo: courtesy of