Highly potent gemcitabine conjugate for pancreatic cancer

Life Sciences : Therapeutics

Available for licensing


  • Zhengrong Cui, Ph.D. , Coillege of Pharmacy
  • Dharmika Lansakara, Ph.D.

Background/unmet need

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and 8th worldwide. Pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis and one of the highest fatality rates of all cancers. Although it accounts for only 2.5% of new cancer cases per year, pancreatic cancer is responsible for 6% of cancer deaths per year. In the United States in 2014, it is expected that 46,420 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed and 39,590 people will die from this disease. Treatment includes surgery and chemotherapy, namely with gemcitabine, and more recently the Folfirinox cocktail or gemcitabine in combination with Abraxane. However, new methods are needed to further improve the survival of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Invention Description

University of Texas at Austin researchers synthesized a novel gemcitabine conjugate by covalently linking gemcitabine with a biologically active natural product. The conjugate exhibits enhanced activity (up to 100,000-fold) in inhibiting pancreatic cancer cell growth, as compared to gemcitabine alone in in vitro experiments. Importantly, the conjugate is also significantly more effective than gemcitabine alone in controlling pancreatic tumor growth in several mouse models.


  • Significantly better anti-tumor activity compared to gemcitabine
  • Overcomes tumor cell resistance to gemcitabine
  • Reduces the dose of gemcitabine and thus its associated toxicities
  • May relieve cancer-related unwanted weight loss
  • May be used against other cancers

Development Stage

Beta product/commercial prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed