ISU Magazine

Volume 41 | Number 2 | Spring/Summer 2011

Moonlit Tree

Moonlit Tree: the beauty of freshly fallen snow resting on the branches of a tree on campus.

Photo by ISU Photographic Services/Susan Duncan

ISU Research Team Studies Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Spring 2011 Issue


A promising drug for treating pancreatic cancer - the type of cancer that has recently struck Apple CEO Steve Jobs and actor Patrick Swayze - is being studied by a team of Idaho State University researchers.

The researchers' efforts have been bolstered by a Higher Education Research Council $50,000 grant from the Idaho State Board of Education.

"At this time, pancreatic cancer has low survival rates, about 4 to 6 percent after five years, and there are no good drugs for its treatment," said Alok Bhushan, ISU pharmacy professor. "We are studying a newly synthesized compound that, in initial studies, is effective against pancreatic cancer cells and is not toxic."

The ISU research team consists of Byron Bennett, assistant professor of chemistry; Alok Bhushan and James Lai, professors in pharmacology at the ISU College of Pharmacy; and pharmacy doctoral student Aditi Jain.

"We want to emphasize that we're just in the initial state of studying this compound and there are many more steps that must be done to determine if it can be used to treat pancreatic cancer," Bhushan said. "There is a lot of testing and there are clinical trials yet to be done."

The researchers are in the pre-clinical phase of research and have completed testing isolated cancer cells in their lab. The next step in studying the drug, which the researchers are engaged in now, is studying how the drug works at molecular level.

In addition, the scientists are studying the mechanisms of the compound to determine why it is effective. They also are completing a detail chemical analysis of the drug's properties that could help with the design and formulation of the drug in the future.

If the drug continues to look promising after this phase of the research, more testing will be done and, eventually, clinical trials, testing the drug on human subjects, would be completed.