A study published recently in the journal Nature identified clues that may explain long-term pancreatic cancer survival.
Researchers analyzed the immune profile of 150 pancreatic cancer patients and found that those who survived more than three years post-surgery had both high numbers of neoantigens (proteins that stimulate an immune response) on their tumor and a high number of “killer” T-cells infiltrating the tumor.
“These ‘killer’ T-cells have the capability of recognizing and attacking the tumor,” said Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA , chief science officer at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ( PanCAN ), who is not affiliated with the research study. “Whereas these cells are blocked from entering the tumor in most pancreatic cancers, this new study adds to the evidence that patients whose tumors allow T-cell infiltration have improved outcomes.”
Results will help improve the design and strategy of immunotherapy efforts for patients – both for those with higher levels of neoantigens and T-cells and for those with lower levels – and will shed light on possible new treatment options, including immunotherapies and personalized cancer vaccines.
“Our work may help establish upfront which patients may benefit from certain types of immunotherapy, such as checkpoint blockade,” said co-senior author Steve Leach, MD, director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth, a 2015 PanCAN Research Acceleration Network (RAN) Grant recipient and member and immediate past chair of PanCAN’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.
The study was funded in part by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Authors Douglas Fearon, MD, and Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, MD, PhD, are also PanCAN grantees, and first author Vinod Balachandran, MD, is a member of PanCAN’s Precision PromiseSM Immunotherapy Working Group.
Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest major cancer with a five-year survival of only 9 percent. The disease is currently the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and it is estimated it will become the second leading cause around the year 2020.
PR News Wire is provided courtesy of the Associated Press news wire.
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