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Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine, responsible for producing digestive juices and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Cells called exocrine pancreas cells produce the digestive juices, while cells called endocrine pancreas cells produce the hormones. The majority of pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells.

Every day, an estimated 150 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and about 120 people will die from the disease. Most cancers of the pancreas are ductal adenocarcinomas, with two-thirds of tumors arising in the head of the pancreas. Ductal carcinomas are poorly demarcated tumors that are characterized by atypical cells forming irregular, often complex and incomplete, tubular or glandular structures, embedded in a dense desmoplastic tumor stroma. They grow rapidly, having often spread beyond the pancreas into adjacent tissues at time of diagnosis. 

One of the major challenges of pancreatic cancer that contributes to its poor survival rates is the development of resistance to standard chemotherapy. Heterogeneity of the tumor, the dense fibroblastic stroma, and the aggressive biology of the tumor all contribute to chemoresistance. Furthermore, as the aggressive tumor grows into adjacent tissues, it can invade the liver or the stomach, and more often invades local vasculature, rendering the tumor inoperable. As surgical resection is currently the gold standard for treatment, a locally advanced tumor that is non-resectable leaves patients in a state where only palliative care may be offered. ACT is developing a technology that will convert patients with locally advanced non-resectable disease into candidates for surgical resection, by shrinking the tumor away from these vital structures, improving quality of life and extending survival.

Pancreatic cancer is the

3rd leading cause

of cancer related death in

the United States

Pancreatic cancer has the

lowest five-year

survival rate of any major cancer, 

at O N L Y  8%

ACT is developing implantable devices to infuse chemotherapy drugs directly into affected organs, targeting difficult-to-reach tumors while largely sparing surrounding tissues, organs and blood vessels. Our first device, about the size of a quarter, will be implanted in the pancreas with electrical leads running to the abdomen.  The device uses a process called iontophoresis that drives the  chemotherapy into the tumor using electrical currents that pass through the drug solution into the tissue. The desmoplastic stroma that is a barrier to systemic chemotherapy because of poor diffusion from the blood vessels can now be opened through a process known as reversible electroporation, permitting the chemotherapy to pass into the tumor. This approach for more precise drug delivery is designed to shrink tumors enough for surgeons to remove them.While not always curative, that improvement could extend those patients’ life expectancy.

The device was developed at the UNC School of Medicine by collaborating scientists Jen Jen Yeh, M.D., Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D. and then M.D./Ph.D. student James Byrne. Yeh is associate professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Surgery. DeSimone is a chancellor’s eminent professor of chemistry at UNC and the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at N.C. State University and of Chemistry at UNC. DeSimone is also co-founder and CEO of Carbon3D. Byrne is now a Clinical Fellow in Radiation Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital. ACT holds exclusive rights to the patented technology.

Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies, Inc.

2301 Stonehenge Drive, Suite 115

Raleigh North Carolina 27615-4379

NOTICE: Our devices are currently in development and are not being used in any clinical trials at this time. If you are looking for a pancreatic cancer clinical trial, we recommend you consult the PanCan Clinical Trial Finder.

NOTICE: Our devices are currently in development and are not being used in any clinical trials at this time. If you are looking for a pancreatic cancer clinical trial, we recommend you consult the PanCan Clinical Trial Finder.

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