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Researcher to publish papers in Current Pharmaceutical Design

Erxi Wu, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences co-wrote two articles, “Therapeutic potential of perineural invasion, hypoxia and desmoplasia in pancreatic cancer” and “The cancer-stroma interaction: a potential approach for pancreatic cancer treatment,” which have been accepted by Current Pharmaceutical Design. The papers will appear in the issue “Targeted Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer” for Current Pharmaceutical Design.

The first paper describes the main players in perineural invasion, hypoxia and desmoplasia and the molecular mechanisms of these pathophysiological processes. Wu said pancreatic cancer is one of the most fatal human malignancies. Though a relatively rare malignancy, it remains one of the deadliest tumors with an extremely high mortality rate. The prognosis of patients with pancreatic cancer remains poor and only patients with small tumors and complete resection have a chance of a complete cure. Pancreatic cancer responds poorly to conventional therapies, including chemotherapy and irradiation. Tumor-specific targeted therapy is a relatively recent addition to the arsenal of anti-cancer therapies. It is important to find novel targets to distinguish tumor cells from their normal counterparts in therapeutic approaches. In the past few decades, studies have revealed the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic tumorigenesis, growth, invasion and metastasis. The proteins that participate in the pathophysiological processes of pancreatic cancer might be potential targets for therapy. 

The second review paper describes that the interaction between the cancer and the stroma plays a key role in the development of pancreatic cancer. The desmoplasia, which consists of fibroblasts, pancreatic stellate cells, lymphatic and vascular endothelial cells, immune cells, pathologic increased nerves and the extracellular matrix, creates a complex tumor microenvironment that promotes pancreatic cancer development, invasion, metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy. Thus, the potential approach for targeting the components of this desmoplastic reaction or the pancreatic tumor microenvironment might represent a novel therapeutic approach to advanced pancreatic carcinoma. Novel therapies that target on the pancreatic tumor microenvironment should become one of the more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer.

“Both papers systematically summarize perineural invasion, hypoxia and desmoplasia as well as tumor-stroma interaction as potential approaches for pancreatic cancer treatment,” Wu said, “These two papers were co-written with the Ma lab at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. Together with the Ma lab, we commit to finding cancer therapeutics and elucidating the mechanisms of the targeted therapy for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death.” 

Current Pharmaceutical Design is published by Bentham Science Publishers and ranks 22nd among 249 pharmacology and pharmacy journals. The “theme issues” contain reviews in important fields of current research activity, such as modern drug design including medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, drug targets and disease mechanism, written by eminent experts in the field. The aim of the journal is to provide readers with comprehensive accounts of recent developments in the frontier areas of the field. For more information, visit

Wu research interests include tumor therapeutic targets, drug discovery and biomarkers. This year, Wu has had 20 papers published or in press.

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