A new experimental drug has shown promising results in the fight against cancer, shrinking up to 70% of pancreatic tumours. This significant breakthrough in cancer treatment was revealed in a recent study conducted by researchers at Columbia University.

The study, published on Monday, tested the novel drug named RMC-7977 on human pancreatic cancer cells placed in Petri dishes. The results were encouraging, with shrinkage observed in seven out of ten models, and reductions ranging between 30% and 98%. Importantly, the treatment did not harm healthy cells, a common issue with many cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation.

Dr Kenneth Olive, an associate professor at Columbia University's medicine department and lead of the study, told the Daily Mail: "I've been working on pancreatic cancer for almost 20 years and I've never seen preclinical results like these. I think there is a real chance this approach will help change the standard of care for pancreatic cancer patients, but only clinical trials can determine that."

The risk of both being diagnosed with and dying from pancreatic cancer is higher for men, reports the Mirror US. This rapidly progressing form of cancer has claimed the lives of numerous public figures, including Joan Crawford, Aretha Franklin, Patrick Swayze and Steve Jobs.

Treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs that aim to cure the disease often prove unsuccessful. Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected in its early stages when the chance of a cure is highest, as symptoms typically don't appear until it has spread to other organs.

However, a groundbreaking new drug has been found to interfere with a problematic gene known as KRAS which can mutate to stimulate uncontrollable cell growth a factor in approximately 95% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas, the most common form of the disease. The mutated KRAS gene can cause healthy pancreatic cells to become cancerous.

"For over four decades, we have known that there's one particular RAS protein, called KRAS, that's mutated and drives about 95% of all pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cases and we've had no direct tools to attack it for most of that time," Dr Olive said.

These can include a reduced appetite, abdominal pain that radiates to the sides and back, unexplained weight loss, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, itching, diabetes, swelling and pain in the arms or legs, and feelings of fatigue or weakness.