New research article confirms role of masitinib as a potential pancreatic cancer therapy

pharmafile | February 25, 2021 | News story | |  AB Sciences, Cancer, masitinib 

A recently published, peer-reviewed research article has concluded that the inhibition of mast cells with AB Science’s masitinib could represent a novel antiangiogenetic approach in pancreatic cancer.

Antiangiogenic therapies reduce the growth of new blood vessels needed by tumours to grow and metastasise.

Masitinib is an orally administered tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which modulates the activity of mast cells and macrophages by targeting a limited number of kinases without inhibiting, at therapeutic doses, kinases associated with known toxicities.

The article, ‘Mast Cells Positive for c‐Kit Receptor and Tryptase Correlate with Angiogenesis in Cancerous and Adjacent Normal Pancreatic Tissue’, has been published in the journal Cells.

The new study examined mast cell activity through immunohistochemistry and image analysis, in a series of non-metastatic pancreatic cancer patients. Results showed that various markers of mast cell activity were increased in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tissue compared with adjacent normal tissue, and that mast cells are strongly associated with angiogenesis in pancreatic cancer tissue.

Researchers also found that the density of mast cells positive for tryptase and area of mast cells positive for tryptase are tissue biomarkers that could be predictive of response to masitinib.

The findings support results from the confirmatory Phase III study AB12005, evaluating masitinib in combination with gemcitabine as a first-line treatment of unresectable locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer patients with pain. In the trial, pain was hypothesised to be a marker of mast cell activation.

In the population with unresectable locally advanced tumours with pain, the masitinib treatment arm showed a significant improvement in overall survival relative to the control arm. The between group difference in median OS was 1.8 months in favour of masitinib, with a 0.46 hazard ratio of death, representing a reduction in risk of death of 54% for masitinib-treated patients relative to control.

Dr Andrew Hendifar, Head of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said: “This research provides new and robust evidence confirming the relevance of targeting mast cells in pancreatic cancer.

“Furthermore, the identified tissue biomarkers could potentially be used as an alternative or additional marker to pain when initiating masitinib treatment in patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer.”

Darcy Jimenez

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