Do metastatic pancreatic cancer patients do better on long-term treatment with a standard chemotherapy regimen or would they benefit from a switch to treatments focused on the immune system?
Scientists are comparing survival rates of patients using these two different types of treatment, in a clinical trial for patients with stable metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Patients are randomly assigned to receive either of two treatments. Some will continue their current treatment with FOLFIRINOX. FOLFIRINOX is a four-drug combination: FOL (leucovorin calcium, or folinic acid), F (fluorouracil, or 5-FU), IRIN (irinotecan hydrochloride), OX (oxaliplatin). Each of these drugs enhances the action of the others. Fluorouracil (5-FU) is an antimetabolite that disrupts a specific part of the cell replication cycle. Derived from folic acid, leucovorin enhances the effects of 5-FU. Irinotecan inhibits the replication and transcription of DNA, and so interferes with cell growth. Oxaliplatin, a platinum compound, disrupts DNA and kills cancer cells.
Patients in the immunotherapy arm of the trial will receive a combination of a pancreatic cancer vaccine and a monoclonal antibody called ipilimumab. The GVAX vaccine stimulates aspects of the immune system to kill the tumor cells. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes are white blood cells that can destroy cancer cells, but this function gets disrupted by cancer cells. Ipilimumab targets a protein receptor that inhibits this function of the cytotoxic T lymphocytes. This lets the immune system work more quickly—taking the “brakes” off—and allows the T cells to attack the cancer.
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 listing of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.
This trial is now complete. Look for other trials of drug combinations to see if you may qualify.