Editor’s note: Immunotherapy treatments, which boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer, are a very promising area of research. However, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) tend not to respond to immunotherapy. New research shows that PDAC tumors could potentially be primed to respond better to immunotherapy by treating them with a vaccine and low-dose chemotherapy before surgery to remove the tumor.
“Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) do not typically respond to immunotherapy, which limits treatment options for this cancer. By priming with a therapeutic vaccine and a low-dose chemotherapy combination prior to surgery, researchers converted PDACs into immunogenic cancers that may respond to immunotherapy, according to a study published in Cancer Immunology Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (produced in collaboration with the Cancer Research Institute).
” ‘The only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer is complete surgical resection, and approximately 80 percent of patients who undergo surgery relapse and die from the disease within five years, suggesting a need for effective strategies,’ said Lei Zheng, MD, PhD, assistant professor of oncology and surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research and Clinical Care at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.”
“In this clinical trial, pretreatment of PDAC patients with the vaccine GVAX and low doses of the chemotherapy cyclophosphamide caused the aggregation of immune cells inside the patients’ tumors, and many of these immune cells expressed proteins that may make these cancers amenable to immunotherapies such as PD-1 inhibitors.”