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This article is the author’s final published version in JAMA Network Open, Volume 6, Issue 1, January 2023, Pages E2249720.

The published version is available at Copyright © American Medical Association.


Importance: Treatment options are limited for patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) beyond first-line 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin (FOLFIRINOX), with such individuals commonly being treated with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel.

Objective: To determine whether NPC-1C, an antibody directed against MUC5AC, might increase the efficacy of second-line gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel in patients with advanced PDAC.

Design, setting, and participants: This multicenter, randomized phase II clinical trial enrolled patients with advanced PDAC between April 2014 and March 2017 whose disease had progressed on first-line FOLFIRINOX. Eligible patients had tumors with at least 20 MUC5AC staining by centralized immunohistochemistry review. Statistical analysis was performed from April to May 2022.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive gemcitabine (1000 mg/m2) and nab-paclitaxel (125 mg/m2) administered intravenously on days 1, 8, and 15 of every 4-week cycle, with or without intravenous NPC-1C 1.5 mg/kg every 2 weeks.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary end point was overall survival (OS). Secondary end points were progression-free survival (PFS), objective response rate (ORR), and safety. Pretreatment clinical variables were explored with Cox proportional hazards analysis.

Results: A total of 78 patients (median [range] age, 62 [36-78] years; 32 [41%] women; 9 [12%] Black; 66 [85%] White) received second-line treatment with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel (n = 40) or gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel and NPC-1C (n = 38). Median OS was 6.6 months (95% CI, 4.7-8.4 months) with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel vs 5.0 months (95% CI, 3.3-6.5 months; P = .22) with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel and NPC-1C. Median PFS was 2.7 months (95% CI, 1.9-4.1 months) with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel vs 3.4 months (95% CI, 1.9-5.3 months; P = .80) with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel and NPC-1C. The ORR was 3.1% (95% CI, 0.4%-19.7%) in the gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel and NPC-1C group and 2.9% (95% CI, 0.4%-18.7%) in the gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel group. No differences in toxicity were observed between groups, except that grade 3 or greater anemia occurred more frequently in patients treated with gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel and NPC-1C than gemcitabine plus nab-paclitaxel (39% [15 of 38] vs 10% [4 of 40]; P = .003). The frequency of chemotherapy dose reductions was similar in both groups (65% vs 74%; P = .47). Lower performance status, hypoalbuminemia, PDAC diagnosis less than or equal to 18 months before trial enrollment, lymphocyte-to-monocyte ratio less than 2.8, and CA19-9 greater than 2000 IU/mL were independently associated with poorer survival.

Conclusions and relevance: In this randomized clinical trial of advanced PDAC, NPC-1C did not enhance the efficacy of gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel. These data provide a benchmark for future trials investigating second-line treatment of PDAC.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT01834235.

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