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A New Drug May Stimulate the Immune System to Attack Pancreatic Cancer

green human natural killer cell on a black background
NIAID; Flickr

This trial was stopped before enrolling any participants.

Could an investigational immune activator drug make pancreatic cancer more amenable to immunotherapy?

In cancer, inflammation can be a useful trigger to set the wheels of the adaptive immune system into motion. Hoping to harness this effect to activate a strong anti-cancer immune response, researchers have begun a pilot study to test the investigational drug BXCL701 in several hard-to-treat cancers.

What Is BXCL701?

By initiating inflammation in the tumor microenvironment, BXCL701 (talabostat) is designed to alert and prime immune cells. It has been tested in some types of metastatic prostate cancer, other types of adenocarcinoma, and in small-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma.

Researchers are now seeking to assess whether BXCL701 will be effective against pancreatic cancer.

How the Trial Works

This is a phase 0 microdosing study, in which the researchers test low doses of a drug in a small group of patients. In this study, researchers will analyze tumor samples taken before and after exposure to BXCL701 to see whether immune effector cells are able to infiltrate the tumor and if relevant immune signaling proteins are generated. They will also track the rate of tumor cell death or the reduction of tumor cell growth via scans and blood work.

The 14-day trial is open to patients with untreated, locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma that is amenable to biopsy. Participants will take the investigational drug orally in tablet form twice a day for one week. If the initial dose is well-tolerated the dose will be increased to the previously defined maximum tolerated dose for the second week.

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.


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