As biliary tract cancer (BTC) patients typically survive less than one year on standard-of-care chemotherapy, adapting prognostic biomarkers to guide their management remains challenging. Høgdall et al. measured 1590 serum IL-6, YKL-40, and CA19-9 samples before and during chemotherapy in 452 advanced BTC patients. While all markers provided variable prognostic information prior to treatment, longitudinal analysis of IL-6 was superior in predicting death during treatment. Blocking IL-6 signalling with tocilizumab (IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody) significantly increased response to gemcitabine in a mouse model of human BTC. Thus, the IL-6 axis may be prognostically informative and therapeutically attractive in this rare patient demographic.

(Høgdall D et al. – Clin Cancer Res, 15 September 2020)

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