Catalan researchers are making progress towards the first treatment for incurable pancreatic cancer

Catalan researchers are making progress towards the first treatment for incurable pancreatic cancer

BarcelonaPancreatic cancer is one of the tumors with the fewest treatments available. In addition, half of the cases are diagnosed in advanced stages, where there is no possibility of treatment. Patients can only undergo chemotherapy, and their survival rate five years after diagnosis is about 10%. The scientific community has moved to find a treatment strategy that improves current outcomes and prolongs the life expectancy of patients, but to date no drug has been found that shows sufficient effectiveness to change clinical guidelines. Researchers from the Val d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) now propose a promising combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy that opens the door to more effective treatment for people with metastatic pancreatic cancer, although these are still preliminary findings that require further research.

“We are optimistic. The results are hopeful enough to continue our research,” Teresa Macarola, a medical oncologist at Val d’Hebron Hospital and head of the study published in the journal, told ARA. scalpel It was presented at the American Society of Medical Oncology conference. The Catalan researchers were able to make 42% of the participating patients respond to the treatment, which means their tumors shrunk. In addition, survival one year after diagnosis is superior to patients receiving chemotherapy alone. The researcher confirms that “this combination allows patients to be monitored and survive better than usual treatment,” although she insists that the conclusions are “very preliminary.”

The key to this research is combining the usual chemotherapy that pancreatic cancer patients receive with a drug that activates the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer cells. It’s a monoclonal antibody, a drug made in the lab that stimulates a receptor on immune cells so that they are directed specifically to the tumor and attack it. “It’s like pressing the accelerator pedal for the patient’s immune system,” Macarola compares.

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After the good results obtained in this first phase, the researchers now want to compare the response of patients receiving this combination of treatments with the response of patients receiving only the usual chemotherapy-based treatment. Last year in Catalonia, 1,455 people were diagnosed with this tumor and would be at risk of receiving the new treatment combination.

Survival of the least advanced

Recent decades have been crucial in the fight against cancer. The advent of immunotherapy, gene therapy, and personalized medicine has revolutionized the treatment of this disease and has helped improve the survival of many patients. However, not all patients have benefited from the new treatments. The approach to pancreatic cancer is among the least advanced in recent years, with all strategies tried so far having failed. the reason? It is a tumor that has a high ability to protect against the immune system response.

Specifically, this type of cancer prevents the penetration of therapeutic molecules and immune cells. For this reason, Catalan researchers are looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy with strategies capable of activating the patient’s immune system. “It is one of the biggest challenges we face,” Macarola concludes.

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