Pancreatic cancer continues to be the most lethal malignancy with rising incidence. Traditional
chemotherapy remains the standard treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer. Regimens like
FOLFIRINOX (5-FU, leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin) or gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel have
been used to palliate symptoms and prolong survival. Immune therapy is changing the current treatment
paradigm for malignancy, especially with the recent development of antibodies that can modulate
immune checkpoint pathways. Immunotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer is a promising approach
due to its low toxicity and potential for creating life- long immune response. Multiple large phase III
trials using simple vaccination strategies have failed to modulate the immune response in pancreatic
cancer. However novel strategies with whole cell vaccines using hyperacute rejections (Algenpantucel-
L) immunotherapy demonstrated 62% and 86% 12-month disease free survival and overall survival
in resected pancreatic cancer patients. Combination of whole cell vaccine GVAX and mesothelin-secreting vaccine
CRS-207 demonstrated an overall survival benefit in metastatic refractory pancreatic cancer patients. In the paper, we review
the recently published and ongoing clinical trials using immune based treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Keywords: Check point inhibitors, clinical trials, immune therapy, pancreatic cancer, vaccine.
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