Zelda Therapeutics (ASX: ZLD) and West Australian-based Curtin University have broadened their pancreatic cancer research program to focus on in vivo animals when investigating the effect of Zelda’s medicinal cannabis-based formulations in conjunction with existing chemotherapy drugs.
The pre-clinical pancreatic cancer study will explore the impact of a range of Zelda’s formulations with Abraxane and Gemcitabine chemotherapy agents on live animals, using treatment protocols currently used by oncologists in treating human pancreatic cancer patients.
By mirroring human treatment protocols, Zelda anticipates the research results will be “highly relevant” for progressing to human clinical trials.
“The data to be generated by this new program has the potential to open new avenues of treatment for a cancer with very low survival rates,” Zelda executive chairman Harry Karelis said.
According to Zelda, there is mounting evidence that indicates whole plant cannabinoid extracts can stop cancer growth and make it more responsible to chemotherapy drugs.
Pancreatic cancer facts
More than 330,000 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed world-wide in 2012, with an estimated 3,000 new cases in Australian in 2016.
Currently, pancreatic cancer is the 11th highest cancer diagnosed in Australia. Similar to some other cancers, it is difficult to detect early due to lack of symptoms and its aggressive nature leads to high mortality rates.
Pancreatic cancer is also resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with very few available effective treatment options for sufferers.
Of the 3,000 new cases diagnosed in 2016, only 6% are expected to remain alive within five years.
Research and treatment
Zelda claims the pancreatic cancer market will benefit from further research and new treatments.
Professor Marco Falasca is working on the research with Zelda and heads up Curtin University’s Metabolic Signalling Group, which is committed to finding cures and treating patients with chronic and fatal diseases including pancreatic cancer.
Prof Falasca is investigating the role of metabolism on pancreatic function, with initial findings offering a better understanding of the cancer’s early stages.
“We look forward to results being generated over coming months and progressing the body of knowledge in this important field,” Mr Karelis said.
In mid-afternoon trade, Zelda’s share price had lifted almost 4% to A$0.135.