Collaborating with Dung Le to bring hope to patients facing the worst form of pancreatic cancer. Bever and Le are developing clinical trials for patients with advanced pancreatic cancers that have spread outside of the pancreas. One immune therapy trial combines the pancreatic cancer vaccine GVAX to bring cancer-killing T cells to pancreatic tumors with immune checkpoint inhibitors to block PD-1 and IDO, that in many cancers act like an off-switch for T cells and shut down the immune response.
They plan to treat patients with PD-1 and IDO inhibitors and the GVAX vaccine followed by the listeria vaccine. Listeria bacteria augment the vaccine response and are engineered to express mesothelin, an immune cell-alerting antigen or tumor characteristic common to many pancreatic cancers. Bever hopes the combined approach will synergistically remove the breaks from the immune system and bring in T cells that will be specifically targeted to pancreatic cancer cells.
Immune therapy offers one of the only promising treatments for the most advanced pancreatic cancers that cannot be controlled with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.