Journal of the Pancreas Open Access

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Novel Agents in Early Phase Clinical Studies on Refractory Pancreatic Cancer

Kostas N Syrigos, Alexios S Strimpakos, Muhammad Wasif Saif

The standard current treatment options in advanced pancreatic cancer have demonstrated minimal or modest only efficacy for the majority of patients. Unfortunately, the mortality and morbidity remain high crying out for better treatments and results. With the exception of erlotinib, which received approval by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States in 2005, no other novel agents have since been added in our treatment quiver. Therefore, the search for novel approaches continuous at the laboratory and clinical level. At the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Symposium, results of some interesting early phases clinical studies were presented. First, in Abstract #198, toxicity and efficacy results from the phase I/II study of cixutumumab, an insulin growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) antibody combined with the standard gemcitabine and erlotinib treatment were presented, but the outcomes suggest no real clinical benefit. Second, the early safety and clinical data from the novel monoclonal antibody (ensituximab) against the mucin epitope NPC-1C in pancreatic and colon cancer patients were presented (Abstract #233) and again no particular efficacy was observed. Finally, interesting results which definitely deserve further exploration were presented in Abstract #211, which tested the combination of ipilimumab, an antibody against the cytotoxic Tlymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4), with a cell-based vaccine transfected with the granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) gene in advanced refractory pancreatic cancer. Though, it seems we have not yet found the culprit and the solution of this devastating disease, a small step forward might have been achieved.