March 25, 2011 > Novel immune therapy for pancreatic cancer

Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘00-‘05) and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, reported the success of an experimental antibody that activates the immune protein CD40 and targets pancreatic cancer.  In a preliminary study, on average, patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma who were treated with the CD40 antibody survived longer and experienced temporary tumor regression.  By studying mice, the researchers determined that this effect was caused by the activation of immune cells, called macrophages, that destroyed the environment surrounding the tumor and attacked the cancer cells.  This discovery may lead to a promising new treatment for pancreatic cancer.   The report was published in the prestigious journal Science.   

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