ACGT is advancing cell and gene therapy research for pancreatic tumors and other types of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 64,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Additionally, an estimated 51,000 people in the US die of this disease each year, and Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that the 5-year survival rate is 5%-10%.
The disease is also challenging to treat with standard options. According to Johns Hopkins, only 15%-20% of cases can be treated with surgery. Most cases of stage 3 or stage 4 pancreatic cancer do not qualify for surgery.
Even patients who can have surgery often experience recurrence (the disease returning and tumors growing back). The 5-year survival rate for patients whose tumors were taken out via surgery is between 20% and 30%.
All of these figures point to the need to develop and advance new therapeutic options to treat this disease. Research is underway to learn about the potential of a type of immunotherapy called cell and gene therapy for solid tumors such as pancreatic cancer.
Cell and gene therapy harnesses the power of the human immune system to find and destroy cancer cells without harming healthy tissue or organs. Doctors remove the patient’s immune cells and edit their genes to focus their search for cancer cells. As these engineered cells replicate, this creates a “living medicine” capable of guarding against cancer even while the patient is in remission.
The FDA has approved several chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies—a type of cell and gene therapy—for blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. The focus is now on bringing cell and gene therapy to solid tumors. Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) is one of the first and only nonprofit organizations dedicated to funding cell and gene therapy research.