A new vaccine using the same mRNA technology as Covid vaccines could prevent deadly pancreatic cancer from returning, study shows
- The old-age vaccine against pancreatic cancer was praised by experts after the study
- Findings suggest personalized vaccines could prevent deadly diseases from returning
- A quarter of patients with pancreatic cancer survive more than a year because the T cells are not active
- 8 participants had cells that recognized disease and remained cancer-free 18 months later
Experts have hailed a cutting-edge vaccine that could prevent pancreatic cancer from coming back.
Initial study results suggest that the personalized vaccines prime the body to prevent the deadly disease from recurring.
Only a quarter of patients survive a year or more after diagnosis, and pancreatic cancer often goes undetected because the immune system fails to recognize the tumor cells as a threat.
But a small subset of patients beat the odds after their tumor is removed. A team led by Dr. Vinod Balachandran of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York found that their tumors contained large numbers of pathogen-destroying T cells.
Experts have welcomed a cutting-edge vaccine that could prevent pancreatic cancer from returning (stock image of woman about to have an injection)
They designed a study involving 16 people with pancreatic cancer who received tailor-made vaccines after surgery.
The vaccine uses part of the tumor’s genetic code to teach the cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response.
This allows the body to “recognize” the cancer as a threat and the T-cells to destroy it if it returns. In eight of the participants, the vaccine activated T cells to recognize the disease. They remained cancer-free 18 months later.
dr Speaking at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual conference in Chicago, Balachandran said, “All therapies are currently largely ineffective in pancreatic cancer.
“The early results suggest that you may have a better outcome if you have an immune response.”
dr Chris MacDonald, head of research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said a tailor-made vaccine would be a “vital new weapon against the deadliest common cancer” (stock image from a UK NHS station).
In most patients who did not respond to the vaccine, the cancer came back and some died.
The vaccine was developed with pharmaceutical giant BioNTech, which used similar mRNA technology to make the Covid vaccine, and US firm Genentech.
dr Chris MacDonald, head of research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said a tailor-made vaccine would be a “vital new weapon against the deadliest common cancer”.
In the UK, around 10,500 people are diagnosed with the disease each year, of whom 9,600 die.