Investigational agents to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy or radiation in pancreatic cancer

Myrna Hurtado, Umesh T. Sankpal, Amalendu Ranjan, Rajasekhar Maram, Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, Ganji Purnachandra Nagaraju, Bassel F. El-Rayes, Riyaz Basha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Pancreatic cancer (PC) continues to be a fatal malignancy. With standard treatments having modest impact, alternative courses of actions are being investigated such as enhancing the efficacy of standard treatment through sensitization of PC cells to chemotherapy or radiation. This review emphasizes investigational agents that increase the responses to chemotherapy or radiation in PC models. Our group has extensively investigated on Curcumin (Cur), analogs (EF31, UBS109, and L49H37), nanoparticles and a small molecule Tolfenamic acid (TA) for enhancing therapeutic efficacy in both in vitro and in vivo assays. Cur has a low level of toxicity and promising anti-cancer activity, however, its clinical development has been limited by low bioavailability. Cur analogs and nanoparticles were synthesized to improve Cur's efficacy and bioavailability. These compounds were found to be effective in enhancing the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy in pre-clinical models. Small molecules such as NSAIDs have also been tested for the anti-cancer activity and induction of response of chemotherapy and radiation. Interest in TA, a NSAID, has recently increased due to promising preclinical data demonstrating its anti-cancer properties with minimum toxicity. TA also synergistically increased the response of XRT in PC cells and in an orthotropic mouse model. With strong preclinical evidence, research aimed at developing less toxic therapies for PC using Cur analogues or TA is ready for translation into clinical testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Chemotherapy
  • Combination treatment
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Radiation


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