Each year, the ESMO annual congress delivers the promise of bringing cancer researchers, clinicians and healthcare professionals together for strong collaboration, exchange of ideas, discussions on potential solutions for cancer care. ESMO 2017 Congress was no exception and attracted an attendance of over 23,000 clinicians and researchers participating in more than 250 sessions.

Among the gastrointestinal cancer discussion sessions, the dire need of new agents for the treatment of pancreatic cancer kept cropping up. The extremely resistant phenotype of pancreatic cancer presents a challenge for drug developers that is highlighted by the high rate of late-phase clinical trial failures. Amidst these failures, however, at ESMO 2017, we witnessed some interesting developments in the field:

  1. Upcoming biomarker-based therapy: Halozyme presented the stage 2 results from the randomized, Phase II HALO-202 trial that supports hyaluronan-levels as a potential predictive biomarker: PEGPH20 in combination with gemcitabine-Abraxane, compared to gemcitabine-Abraxane alone, showed an mPFS and MOS improvement of 91% and 50%, respectively, in HA-high patients. [Poster# 743P, 763P, 749P, 774P].
  2. Immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer: ARMO Biosciences reported updated efficacy data from Phase Ib study of PEG-ilodecakin (a recombinant pegylated interleukin-10) + FOLFOX in patients with relapsed metastatic disease – MOS of 10.2 months and 1-year OS rate of 43%. [Poster# 744P].
  3. PARP inhibition for pancreatic cancer treatment: Although POLO trial results are not expected before 2018, ESMO 2017 gave us a sneak-peek into the medical fraternity’s perception about the potential of PARP inhibition in pancreatic cancer. Patient recruitment emerged as a challenge, indicative of the small pancreatic cancer patient subpopulation that harbors BRCA mutation(s). Addressing this point, many studies presented at ESMO 2017 emphasized the limitations of current methods of BRCA-testing and need of developing better diagnostic tests that identify multiple genetic signals. [Poster# 732P].

These early-phase results are promising, and leave us asking for more. While more definitive clinical results are awaited, DRG raises and analyzes some significant questions:

  1. Will PEGPH20 pave path for biomarker-driven patient stratification in pancreatic cancer?
  2. Will the new targeted therapies potentiate current chemotherapy?
  3. Does the cytokine-based immunotherapy – PEG-ilodecakin – have potential in relapsed metastatic pancreatic cancer?
  4. Will PARP inhibitors address the unmet need of disease progression delay and set a new trend of maintenance therapy in pancreatic cancer?

Please visit DRG Insights platform for the detailed analysis and critical insights into the market trends of Pancreatic Cancer through our upcoming report: “Pancreatic Cancer DL&F 2017”.

For Decision Resources Group’s market forecast of commercially important pancreatic patient populations, please see our Pancreatic Cancer insights housed on our Platform.

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