Two Studies Reveal Hope For Pancreatic Cancer Treatments
Pancreatic cancer diagnoses have sometimes been considered a death sentence, with a mere nine percent of patients surviving more than five years after they learn of their condition. Having said that, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania are reporting on some hopeful results stemming from two small studies that are currently underway, around experimental treatments for the illness. While these are early findings, they are quite significant when it comes to therapy options for the disease.
One research study recently revealed on MedicalXpress reported that teams from Pennsylvania, along with seven other centers, saw two standard chemotherapies combined with some doses of an experimental antibody referred to as APX005M (developed by Apexigen). Fifty-percent of the participants were also given a “checkpoint inhibitor” medication known as Opdivo to boost immune response, via removing an immune system brake. While Opdivo has significantly helped with survival rates in a variety of tumor cancers in the past, they have yet to seen success with pancreatic cancer.
Twenty-four participants were followed for seven to 19 months. Of these, 14 patients had tumors shrink, while two saw stable disease, meaning the tumor was neither shrinking nor growing. Overall, the subgroups had participants that saw their cancers regress; the biggest amount of responses (four participants) occurred via the group that received the higher antibody dose, in addition to Opdivo; however, it will take additional research to investigate whether the “checkpoint inhibitor” was the factor in these results.
The second research study reviewed patients with a mutation in PALB2, BRCA2, BRCA1 genes. These abnormalities, which are seen in approximately six percent of those with pancreatic cancer, enhance the risk of getting the disease; as well as ovarian and breast cancer. Patients in this study were already responding to intensive chemo; however, the side effects can make long-term treatment unbearable, and the disease can build a type of resistance to this therapy. This research traded chemo from patients to Rubraca, PARP inhibitor; a medicine approved about 12 months ago as therapy maintenance for those patients who have advanced ovarian cancer.
PARP inhibitors keep cancerous cells from rebuilding DNA that has been damaged from chemo.
There were 19 participants who were given Rubraca, with 17 who had tumors either stop growing or they shrunk. One individuals showed evidence that the cancer disappeared altogether. Two of the participants had been on the drug for over a year, while eight had been on it for a minimum of six months.
While these are early results, they are still very promising. There aren’t many options to treat pancreatic cancer, and to be able to offer therapies with less toxicity would be an outstanding development for this condition, and those who suffer from it.