Researchers from the University of St George’s (London, UK) have recently collaborated with 19 other institutions in Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK, in a Phase II study investigating the therapeutic potential of IMM-101; a new immunotherapy treatment.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, reported encouraging results of prolonged survival in patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) when treated with IMM-101 in combination with the chemotherapy.
The survival outlook for patients with advanced PDAC is usually extremely poor with only 18% surviving after the first year. Chemotherapy, usually gemcitabine, is the only treatment option for these types of cancers, with side effects often highly toxic for patients. This is where immunotherapy can be a useful co-treatment strategy as it aims to boost the immune system to give the patient a better chance of beating the cancer.
In this current study, researchers aimed to test the efficacy of IMM-101, an immunotherapeutic comprising Mycobacterium obuense, a naturally-occurring myobacterium. Patients with advanced PDAC were separated into two different treatment groups either receiving IMM-101 with gemcitabine or gemcitabine alone.
Results demonstrated that patients in the IMM-101 and gemcitabine group survived significantly longer than those in the other treatment group, with the median survival increasing by 2.6 months (59%). “The results from this study are remarkable and represent a significant breakthrough in the development of immunotherapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer,” noted Charles Akle, Chairman of Immodulon (UK), which owns IMM-101.
Although IMM-101 is not currently licensed, there are hopes it will be made available to all patients in the near future. Harry Cotterell, from the Institute for Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapy (UK), commented: “These are exciting results and support our hope that immunotherapy will in future become a generally accepted treatment for a wide range of cancers, improving both survival rates and quality of life.”