Affiliation: University of Florida, Department of Surgery, 1600 S.W. Archer Road, Room 6164; Box 100109, Gainesville, Florida 32610-0109, USA.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy have had minimal ability to alter the natural course of the disease. Clearly, additional agents are needed to improve outcomes in this aggressive cancer. Pancreatic cancer has been found to have several genetic alterations including activation of K-ras and inactivation of p53, p16, and DPC4. Other alterations include upregulation of angiogenic factors and matrix metalloproteinases, dysregulation of growth factor receptors, and cytoplasmic kinases including focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and src. Clinicians must translate the available knowledge of the molecular basis of this disease into rationale and effective therapeutic strategies for treatment. The role of FAK in the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer is discussed below and efforts aimed at the development of inhibitors of FAK for this disease are reviewed.