In patients with pancreatic tumors that have spread just beyond the pancreas and cannot be surgically removed, scientists are testing an antibody along with standard of care to see if tumor growth is slowed or stopped. This new drug received “Fast Track” designation by the FDA after phase II studies showed how tumors treated with the investigational antibody in combination with standard of care shrank, making the patients eligible for surgery. Surgery remains the best treatment option for pancreatic cancer patients.
An Experimental Antibody and Standard of Care Treatment
The experimental drug pamrevlumab is an antibody that inhibits a protein called connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). CTGF promotes the growth of fibrous tissue, which in fibrotic cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, promotes abnormal growth of tumor cells. Too much of this protein has been found to play a role in the spread of pancreatic cancer.
The standard treatment combination of gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel works as follows. Gemcitabine is converted into two metabolites that cause cell death. One reduces the number of proteins available to make DNA; the other shortens the DNA strands. Nab-paclitaxel inhibits cell division and promotes cell death.
Participating in this Trial
To participate in this phase III clinical trial, patients must have locally advanced pancreatic cancer that cannot be surgically removed.
Researchers are looking to see if adding pamrevlumab to the standard gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel increases survival and makes the pancreatic cancer surgically removable. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. Both groups will get standard treatment with gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel treatment but one will receive pamrevlumab and the other will get a placebo. Neither patients, physicians, nor researchers will know who is in which group.
We encourage you to consult your physicians for clinical trials that may be right for you. The website ClinicalTrials.gov provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a list of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.
To learn more about earlier stages of testing for pamrevlumab, read “Testing Standard Treatment Plus an Antibody to Shrink Pancreatic Tumors.”