Clinical trial looks to improve pancreatic cancer survival rates

February 12, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga.--Researchers at Georgia Regents University Cancer Center are investigating a new avenue of treatment to help boost poor pancreatic cancer survival rates.

The treatment combines a standard chemotherapy drug with a monoclonal antibody that may help the immune system fight pancreatic cancer.

Every year, nearly 44,000 patients are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and more than 37,000 die from the disease--including well-known figures such as Patrick Swayze, Margaret Mead and Luciano Pavarotti.

Despite increased public attention, the disease remains one of the deadliest forms of cancer because it tends to be symptom-free at its earliest--and most treatable--stages. Overall five-year survival rates are a dismal 5.6 percent.

Patients treated with surgery typically see their cancers recur within about seven months. Coupling surgery with the chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine in eligible patients extends disease-free survival to a little over 13 months. Now, researchers are turning to combination therapies to improve these rates, coupling chemotherapy with drugs that enhance the immune system's ability to fight cancer.

"One of the reasons cancer can be so difficult to treat is the fact that the immune system often doesn't recognize tumor cells as cancer, or the tumors themselves express substances to suppress the immune system," said GRU Cancer Center Director Samir N. Khleif. "Immunotherapy is considered to be an important approach since it targets those specific substances in order to establish a more effective response against cancer."

Promise has already been shown in monoclonal antibodies that fight cancer's ability to evade the immune system, said Khleif, who is the principal investigator on a pilot study combining Gemcitabine with a monoclonal antibody called CT-011 in certain pancreatic cancer patients who have been treated with surgery.

In animal models, CT-011 has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and extend survival in melanoma, lung cancer, fibrosarcoma, leukemia/lymphoma and colorectal cancer. It works by shutting down cell production of a protein called PD1 and its related proteins. PD1, also known as programmed death 1, triggers immune suppression in cancer.

"One of the main causes for immune suppression in pancreatic cancer and other cancers is the elevated expression of these proteins in tumors and surrounding cells," said Khleif. "This is why our cancer center is taking a leading role in advancing clinical trials examining the effectiveness of combination therapies--which are increasingly being recognized as a promising new avenue of treatment for cancer."
-end-
The clinical trial plans to enroll 32 patients with pancreatic cancer who have undergone surgical resection.

Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Related Lung Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

State-level lung cancer screening rates not aligned with lung cancer burden in the US
A new study reports that state-level lung cancer screening rates were not aligned with lung cancer burden.

The lung microbiome may affect lung cancer pathogenesis and prognosis
Enrichment of the lungs with oral commensal microbes was associated with advanced stage disease, worse prognosis, and tumor progression in patients with lung cancer, according to results from a study published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

New analysis finds lung cancer screening reduces rates of lung cancer-specific death
Low-dose CT screening methods may prevent one death per 250 at-risk adults screened, according to a meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled clinical trials of lung cancer screening.

'Social smokers' face disproportionate risk of death from lung disease and lung cancer
'Social smokers' are more than twice as likely to die of lung disease and more than eight times as likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, according to research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

Lung cancer therapy may improve outcomes of metastatic brain cancer
A medication commonly used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, or metastasized, may have benefits for patients with metastatic brain cancers, suggests a new review and analysis led by researchers at St.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Lung transplant patients face elevated lung cancer risk
In an American Journal of Transplantation study, lung cancer risk was increased after lung transplantation, especially in the native (non-transplanted) lung of single lung transplant recipients.

Proposed cancer treatment may boost lung cancer stem cells, study warns
Epigenetic therapies -- targeting enzymes that alter what genes are turned on or off in a cell -- are of growing interest in the cancer field as a way of making a cancer less aggressive or less malignant.

Are you at risk for lung cancer?
This question isn't only for people who've smoked a lot.

Read More: Lung Cancer News and Lung Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.