Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 142, Issue 8, pp 1795–1805 | Cite as

Immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer

  • Elias Kotteas
  • Muhammad Wasif Saif
  • Konstantinos Syrigos
Review – Clinical Oncology



Pancreatic cancer is among the most lethal malignancies resistant to conventional therapies. The vast majority of patients is diagnosed with advanced/metastatic disease and consequently has grim prognosis. Despite the available options with nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine or 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin/oxaliplatin, chemotherapy offers a modest survival benefit. Targeted therapy in combination with chemotherapy has not shown significant improvement in treatment outcomes. The urgent need for new therapies has turned the spotlights on immunotherapy. Immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer recruits and activates T cells which recognize tumor-specific antigens.


Preclinical models have demonstrated that chemotherapy or targeted therapy works synergistically with immunotherapy. A growing body of evidence has already been gathered regarding the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines, adoptive T cell therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and cytokines in patients with pancreatic cancer.


Many ongoing trials are aiming to identify treatments which could combine efficacy with limited toxicity. In this article, we review the available data concerning multiple aspects of immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer.


Immunotherapy Pancreatic cancer Vaccines Antibodies Cytokines Checkpoint inhibitors 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Elias Kotteas, Muhammad Wasif Saif, and Kostas Syrigos declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elias Kotteas
    • 1
  • Muhammad Wasif Saif
    • 2
  • Konstantinos Syrigos
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Oncology Unit, 3rd Department of Internal MedicineSotiria General Hospital, Athens University School of MedicineAthensGreece
  2. 2.Section of GI and Experimental TherapeuticsTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Yale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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