Scientists have developed a new oral DPP inhibitor that, when used in combination with targeted immunotherapy, has shown promise at treating pancreatic cancer. In trials, the combination therapy proved to be successful at increasing the number of cancer-killing cells around a tumour, reducing its growth and, in some cases, eliminating cancer altogether. The authors believe the new immunotherapy offers incredible potential in targeting pancreatic cancer, a form of the disease that has proved resistant to immunotherapies.

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the USA. Immune checkpoint inhibitors used to treat other forms of cancer have so far proved to be ineffective in targeting PDAC. The reason is that PDAC tumours are effective at blocking the immune system. Sadly, only 10% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will live for five years or longer. 

In a new paper published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, scientists describe how they used BXCL701, an experimental dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP) inhibitor combined with an immunotherapy to treat pancreatic cancer in mice. "PP inhibition enhanced NK and T cell immune infiltration and reduced tumor growth," state the authors.

"This combination treatment not only cured some mice," said co-author of the report, Allison Fitzgerald, PhD, at Georgetown Lombardi. "When the cured mice were injected with cancer cells months later, the immune systems in 10 of 13 mice recognized and killed the cancer cells, leaving the mice cancer-free again," said Fitzgerald. The authors state that the therapy led the mice to develop an "antitumor immune memory" that cleared some tumours after re-exposure

This evidence suggests that the cancer-killing potential of BXCL701 provides long-lasting protection, reducing the likelihood of remission. "If this result holds true in humans, it means the therapy may have the potential to offer long-lasting remissions for patients with pancreatic cancer," said Fitzgerald. 

The research provides yet more evidence of the potential for combination immunotherapies in treating cancer. At RGCC, we're at the forefront of developing new treatments for cancer, including breast cancer. An innovative immunotherapy developed by RGCC scientists has been categorised as a Cell Therapy Medicinal Product (CTMP) by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

You can read about our exciting range of new advanced therapy medicinal products(ATMPs) in development at the RGCC laboratories. As well as targeting cancer, we've developed a new immunotherapy called DendroCov that protects against SARS-CoV-2.

As well as cutting-edge research, at RGCC, we offer a range of genetic tests that can help diagnose cancer and improve treatment. You can read about our range of advanced cancer tests here

You can read the full paper, DPP inhibition alters the CXCR3 axis and enhances NK and CD8 T cell infiltration to improve anti-PD1 efficacy in murine models of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, here.