Novel method for the prevention of tumor progression and cardiac damage in pancreatic cancer patients

By Mohamad Hamze

Certain cancers have been found to cause stress and damage to body systems even outside the area of the tumor. Referred to as carcinoid diseases, they are the result of overproduction of certain hormones that, if not managed properly, can cause additional complications in cancer patients. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine have identified a novel treatment for cardiac carcinoid disease that results from pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, or pNETs.

Pancreatic tumors are caused in-part by mutations within the mTOR signaling pathway, which results in overproduction of hormones like serotonin that have been shown to cause valvular damage in the heart over time. mTOR inhibition has previously been accomplished by rapalog therapy, but eventually leads to tumor progression in many cases. The study by Dr. Hala Thomas and team looked to supplement rapalog treatment in mice with mTOR kinase inhibitor therapy, or mTORKi. When tumors treated with rapalog showed signs of progression, they were treated additionally with mTORKi, which was found to result in the slowing of tumor progression and decreased valvular damage than when treated with placebo or rapalog therapy alone.

The researchers claim that these results indicate a more effective inhibition of mTOR signaling than rapalogs alone and implicate new therapies for metastases in cancer patients with non-resectable tumors – therapies which also confer cardioprotective benefits. Currently, mTORKi therapies are being tested in clinical trials for pNET patients.


University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. "Targeted treatment could prevent spread of pancreatic cancer, heart damage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2017.