Breakthrough cancer vaccine using Covid jab science could prevent tumors from growing back after surgery
The way Pfizer’s jab works can also be used to stimulate tumor-fighting immune cells, the boffins say.
In a first global trial conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, half of patients were still cancer-free 18 months after their operation.
The nine-dose vaccine uses a technology called mRNA that injects genetic code to make immune cells that target cancer cells.
In the trial, the vaccine triggered an immune response in eight of 16 pancreatic cancer patients, scientists revealed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference.
Their bodies produced killer white blood cells that prevented cancer recurrence for over 18 months.
The cancer grew back in six out of eight patients for whom the jab didn’t work, with an average relapse time of 13.4 months.
Scientists don’t know why the vaccine only worked for half, but hope to increase the success rate for all operated patients – up to one in five cases.
mRNA – messenger ribonucleic acid – is made in the lab for the body to attack mutant cells that typically slip under the radar and spread.
The code tells the body to make proteins which are the building blocks of the body.
Study author Dr Vinod Balachandran said: “These mRNA vaccines appear to stimulate immune responses. We are very excited.
Dr Chris MacDonald, from Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “It is really exciting to see this progress in a cancer that has been so underserved for so long.
“This is a very early, small trial, but the results are certainly promising. We desperately need more treatment options for pancreatic cancer.
“A vaccine like this would be a life-saving weapon against the deadliest common cancer.”
Some 10,500 Britons contract pancreatic cancer each year.
Treatment almost always fails.
Three out of four patients die within a year.