Cancer-Fighting Virus to Be Studied in Pancreatic Cancer Subtype

An oncolytic virus engineered to kill cancer cells was administered to a patient with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma as part of a phase 2b trial.

The first patient with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common type of pancreatic cancer, received first-line treatment with an oncolytic adenovirus called VCN-01 in combination with chemotherapy in the phase 2b VIRAGE trial.

In particular, VCN-01 is an oncolytic adenovirus that is engineered to replicate in a strategic and aggressive manner within tumor cells, according to a press release from Theriva Biologics, the company developing the therapy. This can also lead to the destruction of the tumor stroma barrier, which can prevent cancer treatments from accessing the diseased area.

“The dosing of the first patient in our phase 2b (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) trial represents an important step in our pursuit to address unmet needs for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers,” said Steven A. Shallcross, chief executive officer of Theriva Biologics, in the release. “The incidence of (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma) continues to rise and while it continues to have one of the lowest survival rates among all cancer types, efforts to improve upon the standard of care treatment have largely stalled.”

Researchers conducting the VIRAGE trial are analyzing the effect of VCN-01 with standard-of-care chemotherapy consisting of gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel in patients with newly diagnosed, metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

The main goals to be assessed in this trial are overall survival (the time from treatment until death of any cause) and the safety/tolerability of the therapy. Other aspects to be analyzed in the trial include time to progression (the length of time from treatment until the disease worsens or spreads to other parts of the body), overall response rate (the percentage of patients with a partial or complete response to therapy) and progression-free survival (the time during and after treatment when a patient with cancer lives without disease worsening).

Although the first patient was treated in Spain, researchers conducting the trial expect to enroll 92 patients from sites including those in the United States, according to the release.

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