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Cancer vaccine could prevent tumors from growing again after surgery

A BREAKING-OUT cancer vaccine could stop tumors from growing back after surgery, says study.

Scientists used technology from Pfizer’s Covid vaccine to fight pancreatic cancer and found it boosted tumor-destroying immune cells.

The vaccine tricked patients into developing killer white blood cells that could keep pancreatic cancer at bay

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The vaccine tricked patients into developing killer white blood cells that could keep pancreatic cancer at bayCredit: Alamy

In a world-first study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, half of the patients were still cancer-free 18 months later.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, with three out of four patients dying within a year.

dr Chris MacDonald, Head of Research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “It’s really exciting to see this progress in a cancer that has been underserved for so long.

“This is a very early small-scale study, but the results are certainly promising.

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“We desperately need more treatment options for pancreatic cancer, and a vaccine like this would be a vital new weapon against the deadliest common cancer.”

Professor Özlem Türeci, Chief Medical Officer at vaccine manufacturer BioNTech, added: “We are trying to break new ground in treating these difficult-to-treat tumors and the results of this study are encouraging.”

The nine-dose vaccine uses a technology called mRNA, which injects genetic code to make immune cells that target cancer cells.

Scientists designed the mRNA in a lab to trick the body into attacking mutant cells that usually slip under the radar and spread.

In the study, the vaccine elicited an immune response in eight of 16 pancreatic cancer patients, scientists revealed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.

Their bodies produced deadly white blood cells that kept cancer recurrence at bay for more than 18 months.

Cancer grew back in six out of eight patients in whom the vaccine did not work, with a median relapse time of 13.4 months.

Scientists don’t know why the vaccine only worked in half of the people, but hope it may work in up to one in five surgical patients.

The author of the study, Dr. Vinod Balachandran, said: “These mRNA vaccines appear to stimulate the immune response, so we are very excited about them.

“The early results suggest that you may have a better outcome if you have an immune response.

“Patients are cancer-free at this point and are being actively monitored.”

Around 10,500 Britons are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year and treatment almost always fails.

Actors Patrick Swayze and Alan Rickman both died within 18 months of being diagnosed with the disease.

BioNTech’s vaccine was given to patients with a type of cancer that accounts for 95 percent of all pancreatic tumors.

Actor Alan Rickman died in 2016 just five months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

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Actor Alan Rickman died in 2016 just five months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancerPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

Each vaccine is given by infusion instead of an injection and is individually made based on the DNA in the patient’s tumor.

dr Balachandran added, “We hope that these results will allow us to now test this mRNA technology more broadly in other cancers.”

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5513089/cancer-vaccine-could-stop-tumours-growing-back-after-surgery/ Cancer vaccine could prevent tumors from growing again after surgery

Sarah Y. Kim

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