Extending the Promise of Immunotherapy to Pancreatic Cancer

Stephanie K. Dougan, PhD

Stephanie K. Dougan, PhD, assistant professor, microbiology and immunobiology, Division of Immunology, Harvard Medical School, researcher, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses ways to extend the promise of immunotherapy to the field of pancreatic cancer.

Patients with pancreatic cancer have a very poor prognosis overall, explains Dougan. The disease becomes metastatic very quickly, which has translated to a 5-year survival rate of under 10%. The current standard of care is combination chemotherapy––either gemcitabine and paclitaxel or FOLFIRINOX. However, neither of these regimens translate to a significant extension in survival, says Dougan.

Research has turned toward immunotherapy as a way to improve survival for patients. Notably, in December 2018, the combination of the CXCR4 antagonist BL-8040 and the PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) showed encouraging survival data in a phase IIa trial of patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma (NCT02826486). Data reported at the 2018 ESMO Congress revealed a median overall survival of 3.4 months, and 7.5 months for those who had received at least 1 prior line of therapy.
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