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Among patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, treatment with a combination of Gemzar® (gemcitabine) and the investigational drug axitinib did not result in better outcomes than treatment with Gemzar alone. The results of this Phase III clinical trial were published in Lancet Oncology.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Each year, approximately 43,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States and more than 37,000 die from the disease. The disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and improved approaches to early detection and treatment are important research priorities.

Axitinib is an investigational drug that targets certain proteins (VEGF receptors 1, 2, and 3) involved in the development of new blood vessels and the growth and spread of cancer. Previous studies have suggested that axitinib may be active against pancreatic cancer.

To further evaluate the role of axitinib in pancreatic cancer, researchers conducted a Phase III clinical trial among 632 patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. Half the patients were treated with Gemzar alone and half were treated with Gemzar plus axitinib.

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The study was stopped early when it became apparent that axitinib was not providing a benefit:

These results suggest that the addition of axitinib to Gemzar does not improve survival among patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Reference: Kindler HL, Ioka T, Richel DJ et al. Axitinib plus gemcitabine versus placebo plus gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a double-blind randomised phase 3 study. Lancet Oncology. Early online publication February 8, 2011.

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