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Pancreatic cancer vaccine shows promise in early-stage trial


A pancreatic cancer vaccine, in its early-stage trial, has shown promising results.

Results from the trial published on Wednesday in Nature, a scientific journal, show that half of the pancreatic cancer patients who received the treatment, a personalised mRNA cancer vaccine after surgery, did not have a recurrence of the tumour a year and a half later.

The vaccine aided in the development of T cells which taught their immune systems to recognize and fight off cancer growth.

Drew Weissman, director of vaccine research and director of the Institute for RNA Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania speaking on the results from the early stage trial said; ”

“I am very supportive of the findings. it is not a definitive proof-for-use study. Larger studies are needed to determine effectiveness.”

Vinod Balachandran, a cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who led the study, also spoke on the promising results, adding that plans were underway to upscale tests.

“I think it’s definitely very encouraging to see that [an immune] response correlates with recurrence-free survival,” the surgeon said.

“However, it is a small study with only 16 patients in phase one. So it is a correlation. It’s not causation. We do have to test causation in a larger clinical trial.”

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and has a mortality rate of 88 per cent. The main form of treatment for this kind of cancer is surgery but cancer has a 90 percent recurrence rate at seven to nine months.

Chemotherapy has been confirmed to be another form of treatment. However, doctors believe it is only partially effective at delaying recurrence. Other forms of treatments, such as immunotherapy, are mostly ineffective.

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