Immunotherapy for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer
Name of the Trial
Phase II Study of Anti-Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte-Associated Antigen-4 Monoclonal Antibody (MDX-010) in Patients With Unresectable Stage IV (Locally or Distantly Metastatic) Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma (NCI-05-C-0141). See the protocol summary.
Dr. Richard Royal, NCI Center for Cancer Research.
Why This Trial Is Important
When foreign cells invade our body, our immune system mounts an immune response to the invading cells and kills them. The immune system is also capable of mounting a response to tumor cells. Often, however, the body's immune response isn't strong enough to completely destroy tumors.
During an immune response, cells signal each other in complex ways that serve to start, stop, or control the intensity of the response. Molecules found on many types of cancer cells stimulate certain immune system cells (called cytotoxic T lymphocytes, or activated T cells) to attack the cancer cells. Once the attack has started, however, the activated T cells produce a molecule called cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4). This molecule then produces a signal that tells the T cells to stop their attack. This T-cell inhibition helps prevent normal cells from being harmed by an immune response, but it may also prevent the immune system from destroying malignant tumors. Researchers hope that blocking CTLA-4's inhibitory signal will lead to a more robust immune response against tumors.
"We know that T lymphocytes infiltrate pancreatic tumors in great numbers, but the tumors present an immunosuppressive environment," said Dr. Royal. "We hope that MDX-010 will help lymphocytes overcome this immunosuppression and allow the patient's own immune system to destroy their cancer."
This trial is no longer accepting new patients. To locate other clinical trials for pancreatic cancer, search the NCI database of clinical trials or call the NCI Clinical Trials Referral Office toll-free at 1-888-NCI-1937. This call is confidential.