MSK is a major research institution. During your treatment for pancreatic cancer, your care team may ask if you want to join a clinical trial.
What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments, procedures, or devices to see how well they work. They are an important part of helping to prevent, treat, and cure cancer. Almost every cancer treatment given to patients was first tested during a clinical trial.
MSK tests new treatments for pancreatic cancer. Treatment trials test new drugs, drug combinations, devices, and ways of doing procedures, surgery, or radiation therapy.
Sometimes a clinical trial gives you access to new therapies that are not yet available at most hospitals. Talk with your doctor about whether joining a clinical trial is right for you.
Clinical trials are designed to answer questions about:
- Side effects
- Whether some people are helped more than others
MSK will start a clinical trial only if our researchers think we can improve methods for cancer:
For more information, please read Clinical Trials at MSK: What You Need to Know
MSK researchers are developing or improving treatments for people with pancreatic cancer.
- Our patients were among the first to get olaparib (Lynparza®) as part of a clinical trial. This drug became a new standard treatment for people with metastatic (spreading) pancreatic cancer. They also had a change (mutation or variant) in a BRCA gene.
- We have 1 of the country’s two Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants for pancreatic cancer. The grant is awarded by the National Cancer Institute and supports pancreatic cancer research.
- MSK was awarded a Break Through Cancer grant. This grant supports our study of the KRAS gene. This gene is changed in most (9 out of 10) pancreatic cancers. For now, the U.S. Food and Drug has not approved any therapies for pancreatic cancer with a KRAS mutation. MSK’s research focuses on developing drugs that target KRAS mutations.
- MSK is a National Pancreas Foundation Center of Excellence. We were selected because we focus on both the best treatment results and improved quality of life. We also were selected for excellence in our clinical trials that explore new treatments for pancreatic cancer.
- Our researchers are working with the Pancreas Cancer Action Network on several clinical trials.
Pancreatic cancer research at MSK
When you come to MSK, your pancreatic cancer care team will have experts from many areas. This includes medical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology, and surgery.
You may be able to join a clinical trial. Our doctors will work with you to understand your goals for joining our research study. We will support you throughout the process.
MSK is researching genetics in people with pancreatic cancer. We’re looking at who is more likely to respond well to certain drugs, based on their tumor’s genetics. We’re focusing on immunotherapies and targeted therapies. Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. Targeted therapies aim at specific gene mutations to stop cancer from growing.
MSK is leading the only clinical trial of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for pancreatic cancer. The mRNA vaccine is a type of immunotherapy given after surgery you have to remove the main tumor. Each mRNA vaccine is different because it’s made just for the person who gets it.
We’re researching whether this vaccine will help people make more immune cells (T cells). These cells can recognize and kill pancreatic cancer cells. The vaccine could lower the chance of cancer coming back after surgery.
MSK always looks for ways to improve standard treatments in pancreatic cancer, including ones that target a person’s specific cancer. Our researchers are working to develop new targeted therapies for people with pancreatic cancer and BRCA or KRAS gene mutations.
Our experts can help determine which clinical trial is right for you, including some of our newly opened clinical trials:
- 20-481 A Phase II Study of Pembrolizumab Immunotherapy and OLApaRib (POLAR) Maintenance Therapy for Patients with Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer
- 22 352 A Phase 1 Study of ELI-002 7P Immunotherapy in People with Digestive Cancers
- 16 261 A Phase I Study of MVT-5873 Alone or with Chemotherapy in Patients with Pancreatic Cancer and Other CA19-9 Positive Tumors
- 23 011 A Phase 1b Study of Odetiglucan with CDX-1140 Immunotherapy to Treat Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer
- 22 310 A Phase I Study of ASP3082 in People with Solid Tumors with KRAS G12D Mutations
You can see a current listing of MSK’s clinical trials for pancreatic cancer below.