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Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

by Dr Sandeep Nayak(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 285 - March 2023


Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. It has high mortality rates and limited treatment options. Only about 10% of people live five years or longer when diagnosed. Following its successful clinical trial for bladder cancer, immunotherapy company BlueTide plans to get its new treatment to market by 2021. Using a patient’s immune system to fight cancer, these injections have shown high response rates with minimal side effects and no drug resistance.

Current treatments include removing the tumour surgically, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy drugs like VEGF inhibitors or monoclonal antibodies that target specific cell receptors.

While research on this topic is extensive, we’ll look at new findings from major international conferences and recent studies that may reshape how we treat this deadly disease in the near future. Several experiments are carried out to deal with pancreatic cancer; currently, we have a new pancreatic cancer treatment which is a breakthrough in fighting cancer.

Let's find out more about Pancreatic cancer and what new initiatives are being taken through this article.

Diagram of Pancreas

Diagram of Pancreas


What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer of the pancreas that begins in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large organ behind the stomach that produces enzymes that aid digestion. The pancreas also produces hormones that help regulate blood sugar. Most pancreatic cancers are caused by genetics, long-term pancreatitis, or cigarette smoking. People with a family history of pancreatic cancer and those who have had long-term pancreatitis are at higher risk of developing the disease. However, only 2% of pancreatic cancers are caused by a family genetic mutation.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancer observed and experienced till now, so what are the treatments promising us better results? Let's check..

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immunotherapy, using a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer, has been a promising treatment since its introduction in 2011. Since then, it has been used to treat a variety of cancers, but the field is still in its early stages. The most advanced immunotherapy drugs are known as immune checkpoint inhibitors. These drugs block certain pathways that prevent the immune system from attacking tumors.

Cancer cells often have mutations in genes that can cause the cells to grow rapidly, evade detection by the immune system, and spread to other parts of the body. These mutations also appear to prompt other immune cells to calm down and let the cancer cells grow out of control. These immune checkpoints can be either on the cancer cells themselves or on the cells that are supposed to kill the cancer cells.

New Findings on Immunotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer

In the phase 3 clinical trial, researchers found that combining the immunotherapy drug Pembrolizumab (brand name Keytruda) with standard chemotherapy improved survival rates for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer by more than 12 months compared with chemotherapy alone.

The study included 1,204 patients and showed that combining the two therapies improved overall survival rates by 6.3 months compared with chemotherapy alone. The study also found that the combination treatment reduced the risk of death by 36% compared with chemotherapy alone.


Immunomodulation aims to change the immune system’s response to cancer cells. It does this by introducing tumour-associated antigens that signal the immune system to stop the proliferation of cancer cells. As a result, the immune system kills the cells. In order to do this, researchers harvest the patient’s immune cells and then add the antigens to them. The cells are then reinfused back into the patient. At a recent international pancreatic cancer conference, researchers discussed the current efforts to use immunomodulation for treating pancreatic cancer. Immunomodulation is currently being used in clinical trials for pancreatic, lung, breast, and colorectal cancers.

What is new but currently? Immunotherapy is one of the treatments but what is new?

What is a New Breakthrough in Pancreatic Cancer?

New and upcoming treatments are necessary in the cancer world, and successfully there is a breakthrough, which is AMP945. AMP945 is a potential drug that can treat pancreatic cancer. It could be used as a monotherapy or in combination with other drugs. It targets the Wnt pathway, which is essential for pancreatic cell growth.

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive, incurable disease with a high mortality rate and limited treatment options. For these reasons, researchers are exploring new ways to treat the disease through immunotherapy.

AMP945 is a synthetic, small-molecule inhibitor that blocks the Wnt pathway and has promising therapeutic potential for pancreatic cancer. Researchers found that AMP945 inhibited the in vitro growth of pancreatic cancer cells, including gemcitabine-resistant cells.

There are two types of AMP945 which are for two different situations or phases, and they are

  • AMP945 and
  • AMP945 RP2D

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer and one of the worst diseases in the world, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, will be the focus of AMP945.


Pancreatic cancer is extremely aggressive and can spread quickly to other organs. Because of this, it is important to catch cancer early to increase survival rates. While treatments are available, they can have serious side effects and may only extend survival rates by a few months. Fortunately, researchers are exploring new ways to treat pancreatic cancer, such as immunotherapy. While there are many challenges ahead, researchers are hopeful that new drug targets will lead to better treatments for patients.


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About Dr Sandeep Nayak

Dr Sandeep Nayak MBBS DNB (General Surgery) DNB (Surgical Oncology) MRCS (UK) MNAMS (General Surgery) Fellowship in Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgical Oncology is a renowned oncologist in India with more than 15+ years of experience in the field of Advanced Laparoscopic and Robotic Onco-Surgery.He has a doctoral in Surgical Oncology from the prestigious Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata. He was awarded The “Global Excellence Award” at International Conference on Innovations in Biotech and Medicine in October 2013, held in Bangalore, India. Dr Nayak may be contacted via

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