The therapy is meant to combat as much cancer as possible before a patient undergoes surgery to remove any remaining tumor in the pancreasand indeed, the phase II clinical trial demonstrated that it’s effective in doing so.
In this latest work, which is published in Clinical Cancer Research, investigators analyzed blood and tissue samples from patients undergoing this and other treatments for locally advanced pancreatic cancer.
They found that FFX+CRT improved the expression of genes linked to the normalization of blood vessels and the migration and maturation of various immune cells. Losartan+FFX+CRT inhibited immunosuppression and reduced the expression of genes that promote the invasion of tumor cells into normal tissue.
Also, losartan induced changes in the blood levels of various molecules involved in blood vessel health and the immune response. Lastly, tumor tissue from patients in the losartan+FFX+CRT-the treated group had decreased numbers of cells that suppress the immune response and higher numbers of immune cells that are important for killing cancerous or virally infected cells.
Novel Protocol Improves Pancreatic Cancer Outcomes
These findings suggest that losartan may potentiate the benefit of FFX+CRT by reducing tumor invasion and immunosuppression. Thus, they would not only reveal how losartan may synergize with emerging cytotoxic regimens, but also provide valuable information for overcoming resistance to immunotherapysuch as immune checkpoint blockersthat can occur in pancreatic cancer.
Interestingly, researchers found that blood levels of a molecule Tie2 (which is involved in new blood vessel formation increased over time in patients treated with losartan+FFX+CRT who experienced only a partial or poor response. Therefore, an increase in soluble Tie2 could be an indication of tumor progression.
Inspired by our published studies on the benefit of adding losartan, several clinical trials in patients with pancreatic cancer are currently evaluating the effectiveness of adding losartan to different cytotoxic treatment regimens or cytotoxic plus immunotherapy.
When completed, these clinical trials will indicate whether losartan, when combined with different therapies, can improve the treatment response and long-term survival of patients with pancreatic cancer.