Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is one of the most aggressive malignancies with marked resistance to chemo- and radiotherapy. PDA-cancer stem cells (CSCs) are not targeted by current therapies and may be a reason for poor prognosis. Studies indicate that diets rich in cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower offer cancer preventative and therapeutic benefits. Recent experimental studies have confirmed these findings and demonstrated that isothiocyanate, sulforaphane, and the polyphenol, quercetin, effectively reduced tumor growth and enhanced the sensitivity of the cancer cells to current chemotherapeutics. The aim of the present study is to test the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial on the application of freeze-dried broccoli sprouts in patients with advanced PDA.
Methods and study design: The study is designed as a prospective randomized, double-blinded pilot trial with a treatment and a placebo-controlled arm in a single center setting. A total number of forty patients (18 years or older) in two parallel groups with advanced, surgically non-resectable PDA under palliative chemotherapy are planned for recruitment. Patients in the treatment group will receive fifteen capsules of the study substance per day (90 mg of active sulforaphane) during the chemotherapy treatment course. Patients in the placebo group will receive the same capsule size and portion distribution with inactive substances (mainly methylcellulose). The follow-up duration is one year. Feasibility of the study substance, adverse effects, and patient compliance, as well as levels of serum tumor markers (CEA, CA 19-9), quality of life, and patient overall survival rates will be assessed at defined points of time.
Discussion: The POUDER trial is expected to transfer promising experimental and epidemiological data into a clinical pilot study to assess the effectiveness of broccoli sprout extracts in the treatment of advanced PDA. The study objectives will provide data on the clinical feasibility and acceptability of a supportive treatment option accompanying palliative chemotherapy. Based on these results, future clinical studies to create further evidence in this field are possible.
Trial registration: The POUDER trial has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov with an ID NCT01879878 and WHO with an ID U1111-1144-2013 on June 13th 2013.