Immunosuppressive mechanisms are a huge problem among cancer patients in general and among patients with pancreatic cancer in particular. They prevent development of an effective immune response against cancer cells.
Mads Hald Andersen, Professor at the National Centre for Cancer Immune Therapy (CCIT-DK), Department R of Oncology, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, says, ”Funding from the Vissing Foundation is important to progress in our research into pancreatic cancer. In recent years, we’ve described how T-cells of the immune system in cancer patients attempt to fight the immunosuppression built by cancer cells. These T-cells react against various self-proteins and can kill cancer cells as well as normal immunosuppressive cells. Attacking immunosuppressive cells with T-cells is a brand-new concept within immunotherapy. It’s been stated in recent years that immunosuppressive cells are the main cause for immune checkpoint inhibitors to only work in very few patients with pancreatic cancer. In most patients, T-cells of the immune system cannot function properly as they are being “closed down” by cancer cells.”
In the project which the Vissing Foundation is now funding, researchers will investigate which immunosuppressive mechanisms make it so hard for the immune system to fight pancreatic cancer and whether the T-cells of the immune system can rebuild an efficient immune system against cancer cells.
”We will now test whether combining immune checkpoint inhibitors with immune modulatory vaccines may improve the effect of immunotherapy against pancreatic cancer. As immunosuppressive cells counteract the requested effects of immunotherapy, immune modulatory vaccines may hopefully be an effective addition to current and future clinical strategies,” says Mads Hald Andersen.