Study Shows Pancreatic Cancer Patients Benefit from Immunotherapy

Results from “COMBAT Trial” show pancreatic cancer patients can greatly benefit from immunotherapy. The results were published in Nature Medicine.

This prospective, open label trial comprised patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer which began in September 2016 and was conducted in Arizona at 30 other locations in the US and abroad. In Cohort 1 of the study, researchers assessed 37 patients whose cancer had already progressed on other therapies. They patients were treated with pembrolizumab and BL-8040. Importantly, the researchers noted, it appeared this combination therapy made pancreatic cancer more “hot,” meaning it could work in tandem with the body’s own immune system. This finding was important considering previous studies have shown pancreatic tumors to be “cold,” meaning immune therapies like pembrolizumab were not able to act on the cancer. Preliminary results of Cohort 2, comprised of about 40 individuals, were reported on a group of 22 patients who had previously received one line of chemotherapy. These patients received pembrolizumab and BL-8040, as well as chemotherapy drugs 5-fluorouracil and nano-liposomal irinotecan.

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“The percentage of meaningful tumor shrinkage was 32% in Cohort 2, which is double what is available for individuals with pancreatic cancer with traditional chemotherapy. While the study is small, these preliminary results are encouraging and there is hope that we will be able to do larger trials to see if the response to therapy is high and if it is better in comparison to traditional treatment,” said Erkut Borazanci, M.D., M.S., a medical oncologist and physician-investigator at HonorHealth Research Institute, a clinical associate professor at TGen, and one of the paper’s authors in a press release.

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