A Race worth Winning

March 6, 2024 Globalinvestorideas.com, a global investor news source covering biotech and pharma stocks issues a sector snapshot on developments for pancreatic cancer treatments, featuring Oncolytics Biotech® Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCY) (TSX: ONC), a clinical-stage immunotherapeutics company focused on oncology.

Research Nester says, “The global pancreatic cancer market size is slated to expand at ~18% CAGR between 2024 and 2036. The market is poised to garner a revenue of USD 36 billion by the end of 2036, up from a revenue of ~USD 6 billion in the year 2023. The incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing globally, which is driving the growth of the market.”

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States for 2024 are: “About 66,440 people (34,530 men and 31,910 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. About 51,750 people (27,270 men and 24,480 women) will die of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US and about 7% of all cancer deaths.”

Biotech/oncology stocks targeting the growing global pancreatic cancer market have made headlines with recent developments and breakthroughs in treatments.

Oncolytics Biotech® Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCY) (TSX: ONC), a clinical-stage immunotherapeutics company focused on oncology just announced it has submitted an amendment to GOBLET to initiate a new Phase 1/2 cohort evaluating pelareorep in combination with modified FOLFIRINOX (mFOLFIRINOX) with and without atezolizumab (Tecentriq®) in patients with newly diagnosed metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). This amendment will be reviewed by the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI; Germany’s regulatory body) for approval before patient enrollment can begin. The cohort, the fifth of the GOBLET gastrointestinal cancer study, is being supported by the US$5 million Therapeutic Accelerator Award from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), an innovative program established to accelerate the development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer.

“We are enthusiastic to have the support of PanCAN to expand the evaluation of pelareorep in pancreatic cancer and explore mFOLFIRINOX as another combination that could improve outcomes for patients. Notably, this patient population is newly diagnosed patients who are receiving first-line treatment. Chemotherapies, including either mFOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel, are the backbone treatment regimens of pancreatic cancer therapy1. Evaluating pelareorep in combination with these widely used regimens is an important step in our broad clinical development program,” said Dr. Matt Coffey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncolytics. “Last fall, we reported a 62% objective response rate for the GOBLET PDAC cohort studying pelareorep in combination with the checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab in addition to gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel (link to the PR, link to the poster). This response is about three times that of historical controls and forms the basis of the registrational program, expected to begin this year. Therefore, we are enthusiastic about this new mFOLFIRINOX pancreatic cancer cohort and look forward to enrolling the first patient as soon as possible.”

Dirk Arnold, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Asklepios Tumorzentrum Hamburg, and primary investigator of the GOBLET trial commented, “One of the reasons for pancreatic cancer’s poor survival rate is that it effectively evades the immune system and can induce an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME)2. Pelareorep is an attractive combination partner because of its ability to address both issues by activating the innate and adaptive immune systems while driving the remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. Positive results from the Phase 2 study evaluating pelareorep combined with atezolizumab and chemotherapy reported last fall support the potential use of these agents together. I am hopeful that the combination of pelareorep and mFOLFIRINOX (with or without atezolizumab) will yield positive response data and advance the development of new treatment options for patients with pancreatic cancer.”

“This study is designed to evaluate whether pelareorep can enhance outcomes in patients receiving mFOLFIRINOX, one of the most commonly used metastatic pancreatic cancer treatments. Combining pelareorep with mFOLFIRINOX represents an expansion of our existing pancreatic cancer program and maximizes the potential of pelareorep-based combination therapies to benefit pancreatic cancer patients,” commented Thomas Heineman, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer at Oncolytics. “The mFOLFIRINOX cohort utilizes a screened selection design within a Simon two-stage approach that will also allow evaluation of the contribution of atezolizumab to the pelareorep/mFOLFIRINOX combination. In addition, this study is designed to provide valuable translational assessments, such as the expansion of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in the blood, which has been associated with tumor responses. We look forward to building on PanCAN’s strong relationships with the pancreatic cancer community and furthering our collaboration with AIO-Studien-gGmbH (AIO) on the GOBLET study.”

BioLineRx Ltd. (NASDAQ: BLRX), a commercial stage biopharmaceutical company pursuing life-changing therapies in oncology and rare diseases recently announced that the first patient has been dosed in the randomized CheMo4METPANC Phase 2 combination clinical trial evaluating the company’s CXCR4 inhibitor motixafortide, the PD-1 inhibitor cemiplimab, and standard of care chemotherapies gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel, versus gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel alone, in first-line PDAC. The investigator-initiated trial is being conducted in collaboration with Columbia University and is the first large, multi-center, randomized study evaluating motixafortide with a PD-1 inhibitor and first-line PDAC chemotherapies.

“Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has had limited responses to traditional immunotherapy, resulting in a poor prognosis for patients and an urgent need for new treatment approaches,” said Philip Serlin, Chief Executive Officer of BioLineRx. “We are encouraged by our early pilot data and look forward to continuing to advance the expanded, randomized Phase 2 CheMo4METPANC trial for patients living with this cancer.”

From the news: Findings from the single-arm pilot phase of the CheMo4METPANC trial were shared by Dr. Gulam Manji, MD, PhD, of Columbia University at the 10th Annual Immuno-Oncology (IO) 360° Summit in Brooklyn, New York on Thursday, February 29, 2024. The findings were previously presented during an oral presentation at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Special Conference on Pancreatic Cancer in Boston, Massachusetts, September 28, 2023. As of July 2023, 7 of the 11 patients (64%) in the pilot phase experienced a partial response (PR) of which 5 (45%) were confirmed PRs at the time of the data cut; one patient experienced resolution of the hepatic (liver) metastatic lesion; and three patients (27%) experienced stable disease, resulting in a disease control rate of 91%.

From the news: Motixafortide, BioLineRx’s lead therapeutic candidate, was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2023, in combination with filgrastim (G-CSF), to mobilize hematopoietic stem cells for collection and subsequent autologous transplantation in patients with multiple myeloma, under the brand name APHEXDA®. Motixafortide is also being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating motixafortide as a monotherapy and in combination with natalizumab for CD34+ hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) mobilization for gene therapies in sickle cell disease (SCD).

Immuneering Corporation (Nasdaq: IMRX), a clinical-stage oncology company seeking to develop and commercialize universal-RAS/RAF medicines for broad populations of cancer patients announced in February that the FDA granted Fast Track designation for its lead clinical-stage program, IMM-1-104, for the treatment of patients with PDAC who have failed one line of treatment. IMM-1-104 is designed to provide universal-RAS activity through deep cyclic inhibition of the MAPK pathway with once-daily oral dosing.

“We welcome FDA’s decision to grant Fast Track designation for IMM-1-104. Our Phase 1/2a study is designed to evaluate IMM-1-104 in pancreatic cancer, as well as a number of other tumor types associated with the RAS pathway. We look forward to a data-rich 2024 as we plan to provide multiple readouts from our study this year,” said Ben Zeskind, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Immuneering.

From the news: Vincent Chung, M.D., FACP, Professor, Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, is the principal investigator of the Phase 1/2a clinical study with IMM-1-104 at City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States.

“The FDA’s decision reinforces the importance of developing effective, novel treatments to improve the health outcomes of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. The development of well-tolerated oral medicines would improve the lives of these patients. City of Hope offers many clinical trials testing innovative treatments for people with pancreatic cancer,” Chung said.

Candel Therapeutics, Inc.(Nasdaq: CADL), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing multimodal biological immunotherapies to help patients fight cancer, previously announced that the FDA granted Fast Track Designation for its lead investigational adenovirus asset CAN-2409 plus prodrug (valacyclovir) for the treatment of patients with PDAC to improve overall survival.

“We are pleased with the FDA’s decision to grant Fast Track Designation for CAN-2409 in pancreatic cancer,” said Paul Peter Tak, MD, PhD, FMedSci, President and CEO of Candel. “This milestone follows our first interim data report from the randomized phase 2 clinical trial in patients with borderline resectable PDAC that showed prolonged and sustained survival after experimental treatment with CAN-2409, especially when compared to real-world data on patients receiving radiotherapy treatment. Candel remains on track to release updated overall survival data from the interim analysis of this clinical trial in the second quarter of 2024. We are grateful to the patients, caregivers, investigators and clinical sites that have taken part in this clinical trial.”

With lives at stake and market opportunity in front of them, the race is on for companies aiming to fast track solutions for pancreatic cancer. It’s a race worth winning!


  1. Botta G, et al. SWI/SNF complex alterations as a biomarker of immunotherapy efficacy in pancreatic cancer. JCI Insight. 2021;6(18):e150453. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.150453.
  2. Yoon JH, et al. Immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer. World J Clin Cases. 2021 May 6;9(13):2969-2982. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v9.i13.2969. PMID: 33969083; PMCID: PMC8080736.

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