Tag Archives: Pancreatic Cancer

The Importance of Gut Bacteria in the Spread of Pancreatic Cancer

The Importance of Gut Bacteria in the Spread of Pancreatic Cancer
The Importance of Gut Bacteria in the Spread of Pancreatic Cancer

Gut bacteria, or microbiome, include organisms that manufacture vitamins and promote healthy digestion and other functions. A study recently published in Cancer Discovery found that pathogenic gut bacteria can have a negative impact on pancreatic cancer treatment.

When Gut Bacteria Fights the Immune System

A research team at NYU School of Medicine conducted tests on both mice and humans with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), a particularly aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. The scientists discovered that pathogenic, or “bad,” gut bacteria migrated to the pancreas, increasing bacterial presence by a thousand times.

Problems arise when this unbalanced mix of bacteria triggers a shutdown of immune cells, allowing cancer cells to multiply unchecked. Checkpoint inhibitors are a type of immunotherapy cancer treatment that reactivates immune cells, but they’re ineffective against the overwhelming amount of bacteria in the pancreas.

Using Antibiotics to Supplement Immunotherapy

When the researchers treated the mice with antibiotics, the amount of bacteria decreased enough to “flip the switch” on immune cells, thereby slowing cancer growth. In addition, checkpoint inhibitors were approximately three times more effective when used in conjunction with antibiotics.

Checkpoint inhibitors had previously failed to treat pancreatic cancer in clinical trials, so scientists are encouraged by these results. The team is now recruiting PDA patients to test the antibiotic-checkpoint inhibitor combo.

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New Genetic Tests May Detect Some Asymptomatic Pancreatic Cancers Early

Rare but Deadly Pancreatic Cancer can Sneak up on Your Body's Immune system. Doctors and Researchers are Looking for Ways to Fight and Detect.
Rare but Deadly Pancreatic Cancer can Sneak up on Your Body’s Immune system. Doctors and Researchers are Looking for Ways to Fight and Detect.

Despite advancements in cancer treatment, pancreatic cancer continues to have one of the lower survival rates of all forms. Scientists are encouraged that a new test may increase the effectiveness of early detection and treatment.

Improving Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

Medical scans routinely uncover pancreatic cysts, which are small pockets of fluid. While most are benign, some can lead to pancreatic cancer. This poses a dilemma for doctors, who know the importance of early detection but are reluctant to recommend potentially unnecessary surgery.

Dr. Aatur D. Singhi and his team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) set out to find a way to test pancreatic cysts before surgery, rather than after. The result was PancreaSeq®, a procedure in which fluid is removed from a cyst and tested for 10 different types of tumor genes.

Breakthroughs in Cancer Testing

The UPMC study is noteworthy for other reasons as well. It was the first to evaluate testing that incorporates next-generation genetic sequencing and the first to be conducted in a certified and accredited clinical laboratory rather than a research facility.

During testing, PancreaSeq® was 100 percent accurate in classifying subjects who had a common precursor to pancreatic cancer. In addition, it also identified cysts that would progress to cancerous lesions with 100 percent accuracy and did not include any false positives.

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Tumor Suppressing Protein May Lead to New Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

Tumor Suppressing Protein May Lead to New Pancreatic Cancer Treatments
Tumor Suppressing Protein May Lead to New Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

While a protein known as p53 has long been recognized as a potent factor in suppressing tumors, the reasons have been unclear. Scientists are now discovering more about p53, including the existence of a “super” version, that may have valuable implications for cancer immunotherapy.

Finding the Right Balance

Balance is essential for realizing the maximum benefits of p53. Too little leaves the door open for tumor growth, but too much can cause developmental problems.

A research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine tested a variety of p53 mutations on mice that were susceptible to pancreatic cancer. The scientists were surprised to find that one version of the protein kept the mice tumor-free for longer periods of time.

A “Supercharged” Tumor Suppressor

According to Dr. Laura Attardi, senior author of the study, the mutated protein hit a “sweet spot” that allowed embryos to develop without any problems and gave adult mice greater resistance to tumors. The mutation appears to hyperactivate the p53 protein, causing it to affect a number of downstream targets.

With hundreds of genes impacted by p53 activity, Attardi’s team turned to the question of discovering which ones were involved in tumor development. They discovered the pathway of three proteins, led by p53, that created a chain reaction preventing development of tumor cells.

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Pancreatic Cancer: Hijacking the Immune System to Hide Its Growth

Pancreatic Cancer: Hijacking the Immune System to Hide Its Growth
Pancreatic Cancer: Hijacking the Immune System to Hide Its Growth

With a five-year survival rate of only three percent, pancreatic cancer is one of the more difficult types of cancer to treat. Scientists from Cancer Research UK, in collaboration with scientists from pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, recently announced their discovery of a promising method to help defeat these tumors.

Pancreatic Cancer’s “Stealth Attack”

The immune system is your body’s first line of defense against cancer cells and other foreign bodies that threaten your health. In the case of pancreatic cancer, once the cells make it past the initial gauntlet, they move on to hijack parts of the immune system to facilitate their growth.

The UK study, published in Cancer Cell, reported the team’s discovery of CXCR2, which is a protein that serves as the gatekeeper for pancreatic tumors, guarding them from attack by immune cells. Use of an experimental drug that blocks CXCR2 allowed T-cells to enter the tumor, making it more vulnerable to treatment.

Immunotherapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Until now, the shielding process has made pancreatic cancer particularly resistant to immunotherapy. Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said their study suggests that using the new drug in concert with immunotherapy treatments could create “a powerful weapon” in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

Using the Body’s Natural Defenses to Defeat Cancer

For more than 60 years, our Issels® center has been the leader in the use of immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer and many other types. Contact us today for more information about our personalized non-toxic treatments, including cancer vaccines, hyperthermia and gene-targeted therapies.

Hard to Fight Pancreatic Cancer Responds to Immunotherapy

New Cancer Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic Cancer Treatment News: Chemotherapy Plus Immunotherapy

Pancreatic cancer is one of the more difficult forms to diagnose, resulting in a low survival rate. A recent study found that immunotherapy for cancer holds great promise for more effective treatment.

Current treatments for pancreatic cancer

Surgery is the best option for pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, the tumors are often discovered too late for surgery to be feasible. Doctors are left to use chemotherapy and other methods to control the cancer.

Medical breakthrough with immunotherapy

Researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York set out to find a treatment that could make pancreatic cancer more receptive to surgery. The test involved use of PF-0416309, an immunotherapy drug that targets immune cells in pancreatic tumors.

Subjects included 47 patients whose pancreatic cancer had begun to spread. Eight received chemotherapy alone, while the others received a combination of chemotherapy and the immunotherapy drug.

Most of those who received the combination experienced a halt in the tumor’s growth, which was double the rate projected by the research team. Some saw their tumors shrink, while in one patient the cancer disappeared.

What’s next?

Side effects forced three patients to drop out, but otherwise no one had side effects more serious than those with chemotherapy alone. The researchers now plan to extend the scope of the test with phase 2 trials.

Issels® is the leader in immunotherapy for cancer

For years, our Issels® center has been ahead of the curve on immunotherapy for cancer. Our treatment programs are created individually,

based on each patient’s specific needs. Visit our website to learn more about cancer vaccines and other non-toxic immunotherapy treatments.

New Advance in Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Just in Time for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

New Understanding of Pancreatic Cancer
New Understanding of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer can be difficult to treat with conventional methods, such as chemotherapy. With this form of cancer on the rise, researchers have been working on developing other forms of treatment that might be more effective. Recent developments have led to a new type of treatment for pancreatic cancer that is showing promise as a highly successful way to boost survival rates.

Irreversible Electroporation

Researchers have come up with a treatment that delivers small yet strong electrical bursts that destroy pancreatic cancer cells, which is known as irreversible electroporation (IRE). These electrical bursts create holes in the cells, which leads them to die off. The use of this type of treatment has been associated with a survival rate that nearly doubles for those who also undergo a traditional form of treatment, such as chemo-radiotherapy. IRE is able to affect cancer cells while leaving noncancerous tissue around those cells unharmed, which can lower the risk of side effects and complications.

Researchers are planning on testing IRE in clinical trials to better determine its effectiveness for those with pancreatic cancer. The current study that was conducted involved 200 adults who were diagnosed with Stage III pancreatic cancer. While roughly half of those participants ended up with complications after undergoing IRE, these effects were considered minimal. Researchers found that the average survival rate for study participants was two years, although some lived for up to seven years.

If you would like more information on our non-toxic forms of treatment for pancreatic cancer, please contact the Issels® Center for Integrative Immuno-Oncology. We offer immunotherapy and other types of alternative cancer treatments.