Stimulating the Immune System to Fight Pancreatic Cancer

Algenpantucel-L is an investigational HyperAcute immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer. The product consists of 2 pancreatic cancer cell lines (HAPa-1 and HAPa-2) that have been genetically modified to express alpha-gal carbohydrates on cell surface molecules.1 Upon injection into the patient, the alpha-gal stimulates an immune response against pancreatic cancer-specific antigens in the tumor cell lines. The patient’s immune system then targets its own pancreatic cancer cells, destroying them.1 In the adjuvant setting, the immune response targets and eradicates residual tumor cells in conjunction with chemotherapy and chemoradiation.1,2

Algenpantucel-L is currently being studied in combination with standard of care in two phase 3 trials:

  • IMPRESS (Immunotherapy for Pancreatic Resectable Cancer Survival Study)
  • PILLAR (Pancreatic Immunotherapy with Algenpantucel-L for Locally Advanced Non-Resectable)
About Pancreatic Cancer

One of the most difficult cancers to treat, pancreatic cancer, is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Over 45,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013. Approximately 20% of those patients will be eligible for surgical resection.3 Adjuvant therapy with chemotherapy or chemoradiation is standard of care postresection.4 However, the 5-year survival rate for these patients is less than 15%.4

For patients with locally advanced, unresectable/borderline resectable pancreatic cancer, options include chemotherapy with or without chemoradiation.5 There is a trend towards using combination regimens that have shown benefits for conversion to resectability and increased survival.6-8 However, many of these regimens are associated with considerable toxicity.8 There remains a critical need for novel therapies that can improve outcomes for patients with pancreatic cancer.