Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal human malignancies with an all-stage 5-year survival frequency of <5%, which highlights the urgent need for more effective therapeutic strategies. We have previously shown that triptolide, a diterpenoid, is effective against pancreatic cancer cells in vitro as well as in vivo. However, triptolide is poorly soluble in water, limiting its clinical use. We therefore synthesized a water-soluble analog of triptolide, named Minnelide. The efficacy of Minnelide was tested both in vitro and in multiple independent yet complementary in vivo models of pancreatic cancer: an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer using human pancreatic cancer cell lines in athymic nude mice, a xenograft model where human pancreatic tumors were transplanted into severe combined immunodeficient mice, and a spontaneous pancreatic cancer mouse model (KRasG12D; Trp53R172H; Pdx-1Cre). In these multiple complementary models of pancreatic cancer, Minnelide was highly effective in reducing pancreatic tumor growth and spread, and improving survival. Together, our results suggest that Minnelide shows promise as a potent chemotherapeutic agent against pancreatic cancer, and support the evaluation of Minnelide in clinical trials against this deadly disease.
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