Researchers say IMM-101 offers best management option for pancreatic cancer

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner 

Pancreatic cancer is a deadly form of cancer with no successful and lasting treatment found by researchers in the last two decades. However, some researchers from St George’s, University of London have discovered a new immunotherapy treatment known as IMM-101 which has shown dramatic results in treating advanced pancreatic cancer. The British Journal of Cancer has published the results in her recent edition.

IMM-101 is a naturally occurring mycobacterium called M. obuense whose work is to by harness the power of the immune system to identify, react and regulate cancer in a way that is different to conventional immunotherapy treatments. The drug is yet to be licensed.

Previously, chemotherapy has been the only option for advanced pancreatic cancer since any tumours cannot be removed and Gemcitabine is the standard chemotherapy for this type of cancer. Although, it can be used with other chemotherapy drugs, however, the resulting toxicity is often high and side-effects can be debilitating for many patients.

The patients in a trial study were given the new treatment, IMM-101 with chemotherapy, the result showed a significant survival advantage over those receiving chemotherapy alone. Most importantly, the combination resulted in no added toxicity for the recipients, unlike many other cancer treatments.

In the trial, a group of patients received gemcitabine chemotherapy through a drip, as well as a course of IMM-101 injections. The other group received gemcitabine chemotherapy alone. The researchers discovered that some patients given both treatments lived significantly longer (years) than expected, while the overall median survival increased by 59% (2.6 months). This is particularly notable because metastatic pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, and life expectancy following diagnosis is very short, with median survival about 6 to 11 months.

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Professor Angus Dalgleish who led the study remarked as follows: “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.”
He noted further that:”I have seen first-hand that this is a hugely beneficial treatment for patients and I’d like to see it translated to every hospital in the country. I believe IMM-101 could revolutionise the way this cancer is treated globally.”

Charles Akle, Chairman of Immodulon, maker of IMM- 101 said: “The results from this study are remarkable and represent a significant breakthrough in the development of immunotherapy for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The next phase of testing is imminent, after which, we hope to be able to bring IMM-101 to market for patients.”

The study was supported by the Institute for Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapy and the Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.




Angus G Dalgleish, (2016): Randomised, Open-Label, Phase II Study Of Gemcitabine with and without IMM-101 for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer. British Journal of Cancer, doi: 10.1038/bjc.2016.271

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