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Study shows opioid growth factor safe for treatment of pancreatic cancer

HERSHEY, PA--A booster dose of a substance already found in the body appears to be safe and non-toxic for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, and shows signs of arresting pancreatic cancer cell growth in patients, Penn State College of Medicine researchers report.

"Our previous laboratory and animal studies showed that opioid growth factor, called OGF, can markedly slow down the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells," said Ian S. Zagon, Ph.D., professor of neural and behavioral sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. "Now, in this first study of OGF in people, we've shown that administering it to supplement the body's own supply is not toxic and may help patients with this almost invariably fatal disease."

The article titled, "Treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer with opioid growth factor: Phase I," appeared in the March 2004 issue of the journal Anti-Cancer Drugs.

Cancer of the pancreas, a gland in the abdomen that makes insulin and other hormones, is the fourth leading cause of cancer death. Because pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed after it has spread to other areas of the body, as many as 98 percent of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die from it, and only 4 percent will live more than five years.

In laboratory studies, Zagon and his team discovered that OGF, which is involved in suppression of pain in the nervous system, also controls the production of some cells, both healthy and abnormal. Pancreatic cancer cells have OGF receptors that, when bound with OGF, inhibit additional cancer cell growth. Because cancer cells reproduce so quickly, the body can't produce enough OGF to bind all of the receptors, so cancer cell growth continues unimpeded. Zagon's laboratory work suggested that providing enough OGF in the body could bind the OGF receptors, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, and give the body's own defenses time to battle the disease.

For the Phase I clinical study, sponsored by the N
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Contact: Valerie Gliem
vgliem@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
20-Apr-2004


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