Drug that boosts immunity could help treat pancreatic cancer

cancer cellsResearchers at Southampton University have developed a new drug which increases the body’s own immune system’s ability to recognise and attack cancerous tumours, and it has shown promising results in a small phase 1 clinical trial including 26 pancreatic cancer patients.

Previous research has found that many cancers will turn off immune cells, preventing them from attacking the tumour and slowing or stopping its growth.

Called ChiLob 7/4, this new drug enables the immune cells to be turned back on again and for more immune cells to be produced. When patients are given a vaccine at the same time, these immune cells can effectively be trained to target the cancer and focus the body’s immune system to attack the tumour.

ChiLob 7/4 is one of the latest immunotherapy drugs to try to get the body’s own immune system to tackle tumours rather than solely relying on chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to kill cancer cells. So far there is one immunotherapy drug approved for use in melanoma patients known as Ipilimumab.

Southampton University is planning to open a Cancer Immunotherapy Centre to carry our more research into these types of drugs. In the meantime, ChiLob 7/4 has been trialed in 26 pancreatic cancer patients so far with promising results and, a new trial, funded by £5 million from the European Union is to begin next year.

The researchers hope that ChiLob 7/4 could be used in patients in the next 5 years if the clinical trials are effective.

Click on the link for more information on currently open clinical trials for pancreatic cancer