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Copyright ©The Author(s) 2016. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Jan 14, 2016; 22(2): 776-789
Published online Jan 14, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i2.776
Molecular targets for the treatment of pancreatic cancer: Clinical and experimental studies
Tasuku Matsuoka, Masakazu Yashiro
Tasuku Matsuoka, Masakazu Yashiro, Department of Surgical Oncology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka 545-8585, Japan
Masakazu Yashiro, Oncology Institute of Geriatrics and Medical Science, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka 545-8585, Japan
Author contributions: Matsuoka T and Yashiro M designed this review; Matsuoka T wrote the manuscript; and Yashiro M edited the manuscript.
Supported by (in part) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, No. 23390329.
Conflict-of-interest statement: There are not any financial or other interests with regard to the submitted manuscript that might be construed as a conflict of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Masakazu Yashiro, MD, Department of Surgical Oncology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-4-3 Asahi-machi, Abeno-ku, Osaka 545-8585, Japan.
Telephone: +81-6-66453838 Fax: +81-6-66466450
Received: June 1, 2015
Peer-review started: June 3, 2015
First decision: July 20, 2015
Revised: August 13, 2015
Accepted: September 28, 2015
Article in press: September 30, 2015
Published online: January 14, 2016

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Although recent therapeutic developments for patients with pancreatic cancer have provided survival benefits, the outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer remain unsatisfactory. Molecularly targeted cancer therapy has advanced in the past decade with the use of a number of pathways as candidates of therapeutic targets. This review summarizes the molecular features of this refractory disease while focusing on the recent clinical and experimental findings on pancreatic cancer. It also discusses the data supporting current standard clinical outcomes, and offers conclusions that may improve the management of pancreatic cancer in the future.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer, Targeted therapy, Tyrosine kinase inhibitors, Microenvironment, Cancer stem cell

Core tip: Pancreatic cancer-related mortality is almost consistently caused by local recurrence and metastasis. The survival of patients after surgical resection remains poor, and the results of adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy are still unsatisfactory. Therefore, new treatments are urgently needed. Recent developments in our knowledge of the underlying biological features of pancreatic cancer may be useful in establishing molecularly targeted therapy as a new strategy, similar to those used to treat other types of malignancies.