Because of the hard-to-treat nature of pancreatic cancer even small gains are cause to take notice, which is why the approval of Abraxane (paclitaxel) is welcome news. Abraxane is the first treatment to be approved for pancreatic cancer in nearly eight years. Results of the MPACT study, a phase 3 international trial that that examined Abraxane and gemcitabine, found the combo extended overall survival by more than 7 weeks when compared with gemcitabine alone. It also improved one-year survival from 22 percent to 35 percent. Those results helped the Food and Drug Administration decide to approve the regimen for first-line therapy for metastatic disease. The drug was priority review approval back in May and a decision was expected later this month.[See "FDA approves Abraxane for late-stage pancreatic cancer" from FDA.gov]Abraxane is a form of Taxol that is encased in a protein and administered intravenously. This formulation helps reduce severe allergic reaction, and the protein may make it easier for paclitaxel to reach cancer cells than traditional Taxol. Side effects of the combination includes fatigue and peripheral neuropathy.[Blog: Read more about the results of the MPACT study from the 2013 ASCO GU conference]It's believed that Abraxane helps target the stroma, a matrix of cells and molecules that are tightly knit together around the cancer. If Abraxane can weaken the stroma, gemcitabine may have a better chance in targeting the cancer cells.Abraxane is already approved for advanced lung and breast cancers.