March 26, 2020 • 2 Min

Combining Two Drugs with Different Approaches to Enhance Treatment

The tops of closed lab vials as seen from overhead against a blue-ish background

Natasha de Vere & Col Ford; Flickr

Will adding a drug that arrests cancer cell growth to immunotherapy create a combination that slows or stops advanced pancreatic cancer?

Researchers are testing whether adding epigenetic therapy makes immunotherapy effective against advanced pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer.

Epigenetic Therapy and Immunotherapy

Epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off, and that regulate how genes behave, even when the DNA has not mutated. In cancer treatment, epigenetic therapy reactivates antitumor systems that the cancer has repressed, helping to fight the tumor. Entinostat is an inhibitor of the proteins called histone deacetylases, which play an important role in epigenetics. The drug has been shown to inhibit the cell growth of cancer cells and to kill them.

One of the ways cancer cells evade the immune system is by producing proteins that tell the T cells of the immune system not to attack the tumor. Nivolumab (brand name Opdivo) is an immune checkpoint blockade drug that works by reactivating T cells to attack the tumor.

Participating in this Trial

Patients who want to participate in this trial must have pancreatic cancer that is not surgically removable or has spread beyond the pancreas. Participants must not have had prior immunotherapy. This is an open-label trial, so all participants will receive the drugs being tested. Researchers are looking at whether the combination is effective against the cancers, and if there is any toxicity.

We encourage you to consult your physicians for clinical trials that may be right for you. The website provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a listing of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.

This trial has been completed.

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