Extending the Promise of Immunotherapy to Pancreatic Cancer

Partner | Cancer Centers | <b>Dana Farber</b>

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.

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.