Pancreatic cancer a death sentence
Pancreatic cancer is a disease with a very poor prognosis. Only a handful of patients are still alive after five years.
German researchers are working on a type of immunotherapy to directly fight tumor cells. The initial results of the research are highly promising.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 60,430 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer of those 48,220 people will die from it.
If the patient’s condition and the size of the tumors allow, surgery is usually the main means of treating pancreatic cancer. Otherwise, radiation and chemotherapy are used.
German researchers at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich are taking a different approach, namely immunotherapy. The goal is to use the immune system to attack pancreatic tumors that multiply rapidly. But these tumors are supported and sometimes obscured by a tissue surrounding them, the tumor stroma. This stroma prevents therapeutic molecules from reaching their target, but lymphocytes can bypass this obstacle if they follow the right instructions.
Attracting lymphocytes to cancer in the pancreas
Researchers have modified mature T cells to carry the CXC type 6 receptor. With this receptor, the cells are directed through the molecule CXCL6, which is secreted by cancer cells in the pancreas. Once they reach their target within the solid tumor tissue, the lymphocytes can destroy the cancerous cells.
After several experiments on mice with pancreatic cancer, the researchers obtained promising results. The modified T cells proved their anti-tumor properties and the survival rate of the animals increased. Of course, the researchers hope to one day see this protocol in a human clinical trial, but they are only at the beginning of the journey.