Scientists at St George’s, University of London have found that a new immunotherapy treatment could increase the life expectancy of pancreatic cancer patients.
The IMM-101 drug, along with chemotherapy, was trialled on patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
As part of the trial, one group of patients were given gemcitabine chemotherapy through a drip, as well as a course of IMM-101 injections, while the other group received gemcitabine chemotherapy alone.
Some patients who were given both treatments lived significantly longer than expected, while the overall median survival increased by 59%, according to the study.
St George’s, University of London professor of oncology Angus Dalgleish said: “In my experience of using IMM-101 to treat cancer patients, we see that using IMM-101 ‘wakes up’ the immune system without any added toxicity.
“In my melanoma patients in particular, patients have shown greatly increased survival rates and enjoy a much better quality of life. In some patients I’ve actually seen the cancer disappearing altogether.”
Immunotherapy treatments are said to boost the immune system, thereby enabling it to deal effectively with cancer cells.
Manufactured by Immodulon, IMM-101 is a naturally occurring mycobacterium called M. obuense.
The drug will make use of immune system's ability to recognise, respond to and control cancer in a way that is different to conventional immunotherapy treatments.
The study was backed by the Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and the Institute for Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapy.
Image: Immunotherapy treatments are said to boost the immune system, thereby enabling it to deal effectively with cancer cells. Photo: courtesy of Wellcome Images.