Biotherapeutic approaches to pancreatic cancer

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2003 Apr;3(2):319-37. doi: 10.1517/14712598.3.2.319.


The incidence of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas has risen steadily over the past four decades. Since pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage and because of the lack of effective therapies, the prognosis of such patients is extremely poor. Despite advances in our understanding of the molecular biology of pancreatic cancer, the systemic treatment of this disease remains unsatisfactory. Conventional chemotherapy has not produced dramatic improvements in response rates or patient survival. New treatment strategies are clearly needed. This paper will review emerging therapies for pancreatic carcinoma. A deeper understanding of the molecular biology of cell growth and proliferation, as well as of neoplastic cell transformation, has led to advances in several areas, including the use of hormones and antihormones as adjuvant therapy; inhibition of tumour growth and metastasis by inhibitors of matrix metalloproteases and angiogenesis, and by small molecules, such as retinoids, which interfere with progression through the cell cycle; immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies; disruption of intracellular signal transduction with farnesyltransferase inhibitors; and, finally, gene therapy with specifically designed vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Retracted Publication
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biological Therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Hormone Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Somatostatin / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Somatostatin