ABSTRACT: Introduction: Systemic chemotherapy remains the standard of care for patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The introductions of FOLFIRINOX and nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine combinations have improved the first-line treatment outcomes of patients with metastatic PDAC; while second-line therapy options are limited. Based on the results of pivotal NAPOLI-1 study, nanoliposomal irinotecan (nal-IRI) plus 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin (5-FU/LV) became the first US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved regimen for patients with metastatic PDAC with previous gemcitabine-based chemotherapy in November 2015. Areas covered: We reviewed and summarized the rationale, pharmacokinetics, therapeutic efficacy and adverse events of nal-IRI alone or combined with 5-FU/LV for metastatic PDAC with previous gemcitabine-based chemotherapy. Expert opinion: In the NAPOLI study, nal-IRI plus 5-FU/LV significantly improved the overall survival, progression-free survival and objective response rate compared to 5-FU/LV alone. The nal-IRI plus 5-FU/LV treatment was associated with a manageable toxicity profile and comparable outcomes in patients with negative demographic characteristics. The relatively sparse of neurotoxicity makes nal-IRI plus 5-FU/LV as a more favorable option than oxaliplatin-containing regimens and the current recommended standard treatment for patients with metastatic PDAC after frontline nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine treatment. The front-line therapeutic role of nal-IRI is currently under investigation.
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