First steps towards a vaccine for pancreatic cancer achieved

First steps towards a vaccine for pancreatic cancer achieved
©iStock/ThitareeSarmkasat

Researchers have developed a personalised vaccine system that could delay the onset of pancreatic cancer.

The study, conducted by researchers from Queen Mary University of London and Zhengzhou University, China, provides strong proof-of-concept for the creation of a vaccine for pancreatic cancer prevention in individuals at high risk of developing this disease, and to slow down tumour growth in patients who are affected by it.

The study reports the team’s work with a pre-clinical model using mice. The research was published  in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Vaccines for cancer

Although vaccines do exist for some cancers caused by known pathogens, such as the human papilloma virus in cervical cancer, vaccination against non-viral cancers has remained a challenge.

In the study, researchers created a vaccine system that doubled the survival time of mice with pancreatic cancer. Importantly, the vaccine system can be personalised for the individual receiving it and could potentially be tailored to work against other types of cancer.

Professor Yaohe Wang from Queen Mary University of London and the Sino-British Research Centre at Zhengzhou University in China, who led the study, said: “Development of a preventive vaccine against non-viral cancers is hugely limited by the lack of appropriate tumour antigens and an effective approach to induce robust anti-tumour immunity against those antigens.

“Through this international collaboration we have made progress towards the development of a prophylactic cancer vaccine against pancreatic cancer.”

Personalised prevention

The genetic makeup of cancer varies from individual to individual. That means treatments that are effective for one patient’s cancer may not be effective against another’s.

Notably, because the cells were derived from the mice that were going to receive the vaccine, the cells created were genetically similar to the cancer that was going to develop in these mice.

This suggests that cells could be taken from at-risk individuals and used to create matching tumour cells for use in a vaccine regime tailored to those individuals.

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the common cancers, with less than 5% of those diagnosed surviving for longer than five years.

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