Biotech's 5 key attacks on pancreatic cancer

By Maureen Martino and Ryan McBride

Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs

Two giants in their respective fields--tech icon Steve Jobs and Nobel Prize-winning immunology expert Ralph Steinman--died in recent weeks after battles with different forms of pancreatic cancer. These deaths brought the world's attention to one of the most deadly cancers, yet biotech companies and oncology researchers have had exocrine cancers in their crosshairs for many years.

FierceBiotech wants to bring its readers attention to 5 of the industry's most promising developmental drugs against pancreatic cancer. In the wake of two tragic deaths, these programs also offer hope to thousands of people who are in the thick of their battles with pancreatic cancer. Most of these drugs are in late-stage development, meaning that developers have already shown some evidence that the treatments provided benefits to patients in earlier clinical trials.

2011 Nobel Prizer winner Ralph Steinman

Unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact that pancreatic cancers kill thousands of Americans every year. Surgery is often not an option for patients with the tumors, given that most cases aren't discovered early enough, and only about one out of four patients can count on the standard chemo drug gemcitabine to aid their fight against the cancer, according to data from PubMed Health. And it's estimated that there will be 37,660 deaths in the U.S. from pancreatic cancer this year. We as a society need to do better for these patients, and biotech is a part of the solution.

Here's our list of 5 programs that, while certainly not the only promising programs in trials, aim to raise the bar for pancreatic cancer treatment.

Ganitumab - Amgen, Takeda
GV1001 - KAEL-GemVax
HyperAcute Pancreas - NewLink Genetics
GI-4000- GlobeImmune
MM-398 - Merrimack Pharmaceuticals

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