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Boosting immunotherapy treatments to treat pancreatic cancer

Researcher
Dr Li Wang
Project period
Sep 2016 - Apr 2020
Country
Research Institute
Cleveland Clinic
Cancer types
Pancreatic cancer
Dr Li Wang

Aim of the research

Dr Li Wang aims to develop a new type of "cancer vaccine" immunotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer. They hope that it will help to make other emerging treatments more effective.

Meet the scientist

Dr Li Wang works at the Lerner Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. Her lab wants to better understand how a new type of immune therapy works against cancer, so that they can improve the effectiveness of this emerging therapy.

More about the research project

Pancreatic cancer is often resistant to standard radiation and chemotherapy, and is still very hard to treat in many patients. Immunotherapy treatments, which involve training the body's own immune system to fight against cancer are already doing well in a number of cancer clinical trials, but not yet against pancreatic cancer. Dr Wang and her team think they might have found a way to enhance one particular type of upcoming cancer vaccine immunotherapy, to make it effective against pancreatic cancer. "Antibodies which block a set of cell proteins called immune checkpoint proteins have become the breakthrough therapies for late-stage melanoma patients" says Dr Wang. "However, the same treatment has so far failed to bring survival benefits for pancreatic cancer patients. In my lab we have recently identified a type of immune checkpoint protein which early tests suggest might be linked to pancreatic tumour growth. We now want to investigate further whether blocking this new protein will help enhance the effectiveness of the cancer vaccine immunotherapy treatment against pancreatic cancer." In this project the researchers will carry out a number of tests in the lab to understand exactly how this method works against tumours, and find out how effective blocking the new protein might be."Ultimately we hope this new work will help us begin to formulate and test a brand new therapy for patients with pancreatic cancer," says Dr Wang.

Antibodies which block a set of cell proteins called immune checkpoint proteins have become the breakthrough therapies for late-stage melanoma patients. However, the same treatment has so far failed t
Dr Li Wang