the torch Summer 2017, Issue 2 | Page 12

Pancreatic cancer patients seeing promising results in AGAP Trial at Baylor

For many patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer , hope is fleeting . Current chemotherapy regimens and radiation therapy provide limited help against this type of aggressive cancer . The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer hovers around 5 percent , the lowest of all cancers .
But a new clinical trial at Baylor Charles A . Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas is giving hope to a group of pancreatic cancer patients . Thus far , all patients enrolled in the AGAP Trial at Baylor have seen their tumors shrink from an inoperable state to an operable one .
According to Carlos Becerra , M . D ., the principal investigator for the study , one of the most interesting findings is that all of these patients have had negative margins on pathology post-surgery , meaning no cancer cells were found at the outer edge of the tissue that was removed . The research team will continue to measure disease-free survival in these patients .
To shrink pancreatic tumors to an operable state , chemotherapy treatments have to hit their target . But this is difficult with pancreatic tumors because they ’ re often blocked by dense connective tissue exacerbated by inflammation from the cancer .
Inflammation is also problematic for some types of breast cancer . A different team of researchers at Baylor have been studying how an anti-inflammatory drug called anakinra can help breast cancer patients . Based on positive outcomes of that study , researchers leading the AGAP Trial are adding anakinra to a three-drug chemotherapy combination ( nab-paclitaxel , gemcitabine and cisplatin ) to reduce inflammation and shrink pancreatic tumors . As the inflammation goes down , patients are reporting that they feel better .
There ’ s been so much enthusiasm around the trial that , after launching in January 2016 , researchers reached their enrollment goal of 16 patients by the year ’ s end . They also recently received approval to increase the number of participating patients to 20 .
The increase will enhance the study ’ s statistical power . This will , in turn , provide robust data that will improve chances of securing additional funding for a larger study after this initial trial is complete .
“ This trial has invigorated the pancreas team here at Baylor ,” said Scott Celinski , M . D ., another principal investigator for this study . “ We have been able to encourage physicians to recommend patients for these clinical trials . We know that the needle won ’ t move without participation . The enthusiasm is
Dr . Carlos Becerra
Dr . Scott Celinski
“ This trial has invigorated the pancreas team here at Baylor .”
— Dr . Scott Celinski