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Scientists discover new vaccine treatment for pancreatic tumours

by , 19 June 2014

Pancreatic cancer typically doesn't respond to treatment. So, surgery is often the only option for these patients.

But sadly, 80% of pancreatic cancer patients who undergo surgery relapse and die within five years.
Now Cancer Immunology Research journal says a new study involving a vaccine may have tipped the scales the other way.

Let's take a look…

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This vaccine reprograms pancreatic tumours to accept cancer fighting T-cells

Dr Elizabeth Jaffee from John Hopkins hospital in the US developed the GVAX vaccine.

What it does is tricks pancreatic tumours into allowing immune system T-cells in. And once the T-cells get in, they’re able to get to work and fight the cancer.

But that’s not all. After treatment, the pancreatic cancer cells also accept immune-modulating chemotherapy drugs. So where there was no hope in the past for treating pancreatic tumours, cancer patients suddenly have more options and new hope.

Here’s what happened in the study…

Study shows incredible results from the GVAX vaccine

The study took place between 2008 and 2012. Researchers gave one group of patients the GVAX vaccine, another group GVAX with 200mg/m2 of intravenous chemotherapy called cyclophosphamide and the third group, GVAX and 100mg of the same chemotherapy orally.
And all of the patients had surgery to remove their pancreatic tumours two weeks after receiving the vaccine.

When the researchers studied the tumours, they found the vaccine created structures called “tertiary lymphoid aggregates” in 33 of the 39 patients who stayed disease free. These new structures are what allow the immune cells to infiltrate the pancreatic tumours.

They also found that the tumours had become immunogenic. This means, the immune cells around the tumour now had the ability to attack and kill the cancer cells.   
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New hope for patients with cancer of the pancreas

This is great news for pancreatic cancer patients. It offers a new ray of hope and a significant development in the treatment of cancer. 

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