Promising mRNA Vaccine Fights Pancreatic Cancer

May 17, 2023 | By Kali Girl

In the challenging face of pancreatic cancer, Barbara Brigham found herself confronted with daunting odds when she received her diagnosis in September 2020, reports CNN.

Pancreatic cancer stands as one of the most formidable and deadly malignancies, with a staggering fatality rate of 88% among patients.

This aggressive disease proves resistant to various therapeutic approaches. Surgery may provide temporary relief by removing tumors. Yet, 90% of patients experience a return of tumors in seven to nine months. Even chemotherapy, while capable of extending life expectancy, seldom offers a definitive cure.

However, after a span of almost three years since her diagnosis, Brigham joyfully reveals that her pancreas scans now show no signs of cancer. Her recovery is owed to an experimental treatment called a personalized cancer vaccine, currently under examination by BioNTech. This very company played a crucial role in the creation of mRNA vaccines for the battle against Covid-19.

Brigham was among 16 participants involved in a recent trial examining this groundbreaking technology. Out of the 16 patients who successfully completed all stages of the study, eight exhibited positive responses to the vaccine.

This innovative treatment empowered their immune systems to identify and effectively fight off cancer cells. None of these eight individuals have experienced cancer recurrence since receiving the vaccine.

“I think it’s really promising. It highlights the mRNA platform and the versatility to be able to personalize or tailor these vaccines to each patient’s specific tumor and generate these customized vaccines in a fairly short amount of time,” said Dr. Neeha Zaidi, an oncologist at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center who was not involved in the new research. 

“It remains to be seen, but certainly very exciting preliminary results,” she said.

Plans for further research are already in the works.

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