Study Finds Presurgery Immunotherapy Safe for Patients with Pancreatic Cancer

April 12, 2024 10:05:00

Pancreatic cancer is a challenging cancer to treat. Research shows that roughly 12% of individuals diagnosed with this particular cancer live beyond five years. Additionally, treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapies are unsuccessful in treating pancreatic cancer.

Prior research has determined that combined PD1-inhibitors and chemotherapy hasn’t brought any improvements in pancreatic cancer patients. PD1-inhibitors are an immunotherapy drug that assists the immune system in recognizing and eliminating cancer cells effectively.

Now, new research suggests that individuals with pancreatic cancer can undergo immunotherapy prior to surgery, with scientists noting that this may improve long-term outcomes. The research was led by scientists at UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

For their research, the scientists recruited 28 pancreatic cancer patients, 12 of whom were female. For the study, 26 of the participants underwent three cycles of combination therapy while 24 of them underwent surgery. Once this was complete, the patients were observed for a two-year period, with scientists observing that the median progression-free survival was 34.8 months.

The investigators also observed that the overall median survival was 35.1 months, noting that patients who underwent a pancreatectomy had an 18-month survival rate of 90%.

The findings demonstrated that patients who received combination therapy before surgery had higher rates of successful tumor removal, more time before the cancer worsened and overall extended survival. This is in comparison to historical controls. The scientists also discovered that adding immunotherapy to patients’ treatment regimen didn’t increase adverse side effects and caused no notable postop complications.

This study avails new avenues for investigating immunotherapy’s role in earlier stages of pancreatic cancer, possibly providing more effective options for treatment for patients suffering from this cancer.

Dr. Timothy Donahue, the senior author of the study, stated that by treating patients prior to surgery, the team was able to observe whether the drug combination was effective. Donahue, a professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as well as the chief of surgical oncology, noted that the team had identified leads that will be the basis of their research moving forward.

By continuing research, the scientists hope to redefine the standard of care for pancreatic cancer.

Other scientists involved in the study include Dr. Lee Rosen, Dr. Olga Olevsky, Dr. David Dawson, Dr. Mark Girgis, Dr. Deborah Wong, Dr. Stephen Kim, Dr. Jon King, Dr. Saeed Sadeghi, Dr. Joe Hines, Lisa Yonemoto, Christine Kivork, Harsimran Multani, Chi-Hong Tseng, Ann Marie Siney and Jenna Davis.

As more companies such as Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) invest in developing immunotherapies targeting different malignancies, patients diagnosed with many forms of cancer could receive immunotherapy as a viable treatment option. This would be in contrast to the current situation where only a fraction of cancer patients are deemed suitable to undergo immunotherapy.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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