Clinical trial investigates experimental drug for advanced pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer

Quantification of tumor infiltrating T lymphocytes (in brown) after immunotherapy engaging pancreatic cancer cells (in blue).
Image courtesy of Dr. Wendy Bautista-Guzman

Patients with advanced, previously treated pancreatic cancer may be eligible to participate in a new clinical trial at the NIH Clinical Center.

The pancreas, a large gland that sits behind the stomach, produces enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer develops when cells that make up the ducts in the pancreas start to grow out of control. Udo Rudloff, M.D., Investigator in the Pediatric Oncology Branch, is leading a clinical trial of a combination immunotherapy regimen using an experimental drug called M7824. In previous studies, M7824 blocked two molecular pathways that cancer cells use to evade attack by the immune system. Along with M7824, patients will receive a chemotherapy drug that interferes with cancer cells’ ability to divide and multiply. However, this drug may also boost the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells by reprogramming T regulatory cells and reducing the number of immature myeloid cells. Both cell populations are known to help the tumors evade the immune system.

Dr. Rudloff says, “There are studies with gemcitabine and PD-L1 inhibition already going on in the community. This study attempts to build on those by combining three immuno-oncology agents. One of the promising paths forward to optimally help the immune system attack the tumor appears to be the combination of multiple diverse immuno-oncology agents.”

The Center for Cancer Research is NCI’s internal cancer center, a publicly funded organization working to improve the lives of cancer patients by solving important, challenging and neglected problems in cancer research and patient care.  Highly trained physician-scientists develop and carry out clinical trials to create the medicines of tomorrow treating patients at the world’s largest dedicated research hospital on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  

For more information on CCR clinical trials click here, and subscribe to have the latest CCR clinical trials sent directly to your inbox.

Summary Posted: Tue, 05/01/2018