Dendritic cell immunotherapy for treatment of pancreatic cancer patients

Towards dendritic cell immunotherapy as a maintenance treatment for patients with pancreatic cancer (REACtiVe trial)

This project aimed to develop a novel treatment option for patients with pancreatic cancer (PDAC) in order to improve patient outcome. Together with Amphera B.V. Erasmus MC developed a dendritic cell-based immunotherapy which they tested for feasibility as well as efficacy in PDAC patients with stable disease.

In the last few decades tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of cancer thereby improving the prognosis of many cancer patients. Despite this progress there are still only limited effective treatment options for various aggressive cancer types such as PDAC. PDAC is a highly aggressive and devastating malignancy with a 5-year survival rate of only 3%. In 2030, PDAC is expected to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Although new treatments are being introduced, patient survival remains disappointing. Therefore it is of utmost importance that novel treatment options become available.

In patients with malignant mesothelioma it was shown that dendritic cell immunotherapy had a positive effect on the survival of these patients. Since PDAC has many similarities to mesothelioma, including the expression of immune-reactive antigens, they prompted to test if it is feasible to treat PDAC patients with dendritic cell immunotherapy. The results of their study are expected to increase quality of life of patients due to patients living longer in a healthier manner as well as being able to actively participate in society.

Their primary objective, feasibility, was reached in Q1 2020 when 10/10 evaluable patients were able to undergo leukapheresis successfully, subsequent vaccination production was successful and patients were able to receive vaccinations according to schedule. Furthermore they showed the therapy is safe for PDAC patients who have completed standard of care therapy. In addition they saw that treatment was able to induce a tumour-specific immune response against pancreatic cancer and promising overall survival.

Only a limited number of treatment options is available for pancreatic cancer patients and their efficacy is questionable. Therefore, novel treatment options are of utmost importance. This project aims to assess feasibility and efficacy of dendritic cell immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer patients in order to improve their outcome.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
7 - 9
Time period
24 months