Effect of Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields, 150 kHz) as Front-Line Treatment of Locally-advanced Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Concomitant With Gemcitabine and Nab-paclitaxel (PANOVA-3)

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Status and phase

Active, not recruiting
Phase 3


Pancreas Adenocarcinoma


Drug: Gemcitabine
Drug: nab paclitaxel
Device: NovoTTF-200T

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Brief Summary: The study is a prospective, randomized controlled phase III trial aimed to test the efficacy and safety of Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) in combination with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel, for front line treatment of locally-advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma.The device is an experimental, portable, battery operated device for chronic administration of alternating electric fields (termed TTFields or TTF) to the region of the malignant tumor, by means of surface, insulated electrode arrays.

Full description

PAST PRE-CLINICAL AND CLINICAL EXPERIENCE: The effect of the electric fields (TTFields, TTF) has demonstrated significant activity in in vitro and in vivo pancreatic adenocarcinoma pre-clinical models both as a single modality treatment and in combination with chemotherapies. TTFields have been demonstrated to act synergistically with taxanes and have been shown to be additive when combined with other chemotherapies including gemcitabine. In addition, TTFields have shown to inhibit metastatic spread of malignant melanoma in in vivo experiment. In a pilot study, 40 patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma received gemcitabine together with TTFields (150 kHz) or gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel together with TTFields (150 kHz) applied to the abdomen until disease progression. The combination was well tolerated and the only device-related adverse event was contact dermatitis. In addition, a phase III trial of Optune® (200 kHz) as monotherapy compared to active chemotherapy in recurrent glioblastoma patients showed TTFields to be equivalent to active chemotherapy in extending survival, associated with minimal toxicity, good quality of life, and activity within the brain (14% response rate) (Stupp R., et al., EJC 2012). Finally, a phase III trial of Optune® combined with maintenance temozolomide compared to maintenance temozolomide alone has shown that combined therapy led to a significant improvement in both progression free survival and overall survival in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma without the addition of high grade toxicity and without decline in quality of life (Stupp R., et al., JAMA 2017). DESCRIPTION OF THE TRIAL: All patients included in this trial are patients with locally advanced pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In addition, all patients must meet all eligibility criteria. Eligible patients will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: Patients receive gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel in combination with TTFields using the NovoTTF-200T System. Patients receive gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel without TTFields. Patients will be randomized at a 1:1 ratio. Baseline tests will be performed in patients enrolled in both arms. If assigned to the NovoTTF-200T group, the patients will be treated continuously with the device until progression in the abdomen. On both arms, patients who have progression outside the abdomen will switch to a second line treatment according to local practice. SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND: Electric fields exert forces on electric charges similar to the way a magnet exerts forces on metallic particles within a magnetic field. These forces cause movement and rotation of electrically charged biological building blocks, much like the alignment of metallic particles seen along the lines of force radiating outwards from a magnet. Electric fields can also cause muscles to twitch and if strong enough may heat tissues. TTFields are alternating electric fields of low intensity. This means that they change their direction repetitively many times a second. Since they change direction very rapidly (150 thousand times a second), they do not cause muscles to twitch, nor do they have any effects on other electrically activated tissues in the body (brain, nerves and heart). Since the intensities of TTFields in the body are very low, they do not cause heating. The breakthrough finding made by Novocure was that finely tuned alternating fields of very low intensity, now termed TTFields (Tumor Treating Fields), cause a significant slowing in the growth of cancer cells. Due to the unique geometric shape of cancer cells when they are multiplying, TTFields cause electrically-charged cellular components of these cells to change their location within the dividing cell, disrupting their normal function and ultimately leading to cell death. In addition, cancer cells also contain miniature building blocks which act as tiny motors in moving essential parts of the cells from place to place. TTFields interfere with the normal orientation of these tiny motors related to other cellular components since they are electrically-charged as well. As a result of these two effects, tumor cell division is slowed, results in cellular death or reverses after continuous exposure to TTFields. Other cells in the body (normal healthy tissues) are affected much less than cancer cells since they multiply at a much slower rate if at all. In addition TTFields can be directed to a certain part of the body, leaving sensitive areas out of their reach. Finally, the frequency of TTFields applied to each type of cancer is specific and may not damage normally dividing cells in healthy tissues. In conclusion, TTFields hold the promise of serving as a brand new treatment for pancreatic adenocarcinoma with very few side effects.


556 estimated patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • 18 years of age and older
  • Life expectancy of ≥ 3 months
  • Histological/cytological diagnosis of de novo adenocarcinoma of the pancreas

Unresectable, locally advanced stage disease according to the following criteria:

Head/uncinate process:

  • Solid tumor contact with SMA>180°
  • Solid tumor contact with the CA>180°
  • Solid tumor contact with the first jejunal SMA branch
  • Unreconstructible SMV/PV due to tumor involvement or occlusion (can be d/t tumor or bland thrombus)
  • Contact with most proximal draining jejunal branch into SMV

Body and tail

  • Solid tumor contact of >180° with the SMA or CA
  • Solid tumor contact with the CA and aortic involvement
  • Unreconstructible SMV/PV due to tumor involvement or occlusion (can be d/t tumor or bland thrombus)
  • No distant metastasis, including non-regional lymph node metastasis
  • No borderline resectable (per Al-Hawary MM, et al., Radiology 201414)
  • ECOG score 0-2
  • Amenable and assigned by the investigator to receive therapy with gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel
  • Able to operate the NovoTTF-200T System independently or with the help of a caregiver
  • Signed informed consent form for the study protocol

Exclusion criteria

  • Prior palliative treatment (e.g. surgery, radiation) to the tumor
  • Cancer requiring anti-tumor treatment within the 5 years before inclusion, excluding treated stage I prostate cancer, in situ cervical or uterus cancer, in situ breast cancer and non-melanomatous skin cancer.

Serious co-morbidities:

  • Clinically significant (as determined by the investigator) hematological, hepatic and renal dysfunction, defined as: Neutrophil count < 1.5 x 10^9/L and platelet count < 100 x 10^9/L; bilirubin > 1.5 x Upper Limit of Normal (ULN); AST and/or ALT > 2.5 x ULN; and serum creatinine > 1.5 x ULN.
  • History of significant cardiovascular disease unless the disease is well controlled. Significant cardiac disease includes second/third degree heart block; significant ischemic heart disease; poorly controlled hypertension; congestive heart failure of the New York Heart Association (NYHA) Class II or worse (slight limitation of physical activity; comfortable at rest, but ordinary activity results in fatigue, palpitation or dyspnea).
  • History of arrhythmia that is symptomatic or requires treatment. Patients with atrial fibrillation or flutter controlled by medication are not excluded from participation in the trial.
  • History of cerebrovascular accident (CVA) within 6 months prior to randomization or that is not stable.
  • Active infection or serious underlying medical condition that would impair the ability of the patient to receive protocol therapy.
  • History of any psychiatric condition that might impair patient's ability to understand or comply with the requirements of the study or to provide consent.
  • Concurrent anti-tumor therapy beyond gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel
  • Implantable electronic medical devices in the torso, such as pacemakers
  • Known severe hypersensitivities to medical adhesives or hydrogel, or to one of the chemotherapies used in this trial.
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding (female patients with reproductive potential and their partners must accept to use effective contraception throughout the entire study period and for 3 months after the end of treatment). All patients who are capable of becoming pregnant must take a pregnancy test which is negative within 72 hours before beginning treatment. The definition of effective contraception is left up to the decision of the investigator.
  • Unable to follow the protocol for medical, psychological, familial, geographic or other reasons.
  • Admitted to an institution by administrative or court order.

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

556 participants in 2 patient groups

Experimental group
Patients receive TTFields using the NovoTTF-200T System together with gemcitabine and nab-Paclitaxel
Device: NovoTTF-200T
Drug: nab paclitaxel
Drug: Gemcitabine
Best Standard of Care
Active Comparator group
Patients receive best standard of care with gemcitabine and nab-Paclitaxel
Drug: nab paclitaxel
Drug: Gemcitabine

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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