PEOPLE suffering from bile duct cancer could be helped by a new drug class of experimental drug, a study has shown.
Bile duct cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma, is a rare but aggressive type of cancer, which affects around 1,000 people a year in the UK.
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It does not typically respond to chemotherapy, and there are usually no symptoms until it reaches the later stages, meaning it is very difficult to treat with surgery.
Fewer than one in 20 patients will survive for five years after diagnosis.
A study led by scientists at the University of Edinburgh has found that a key pathway - known as Wnt - drives tumour growth in the cancer.
Researchers found that the treatment prevented the growth of bile duct cancer cells in the lab and shrank tumours in animals with the disease.
They are now planning to test whether these drugs will be effective in patients.
Dr Luke Boulter, of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Identifying the signals that control bile duct cancer’s growth will allow us to design better treatments that are urgently needed.”
Helen Moremont of AMMF, The Cholangiocarcinoma Charity, said: “This is potentially very exciting.
“Cholangiocarcinoma is an under-researched, much neglected but truly devastating disease, so it is good to see progress being made in novel areas. We are hopeful that this research work with Wnt will provide a real step forward towards a clinical trial and some long awaited possible improvements in treatment.”