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Team Behind Covid Jab Creates Vaccine That Could Stop Cancer Returning

Team Behind Covid Jab Creates Vaccine That Could Stop Cancer Returning

The first trial of the vaccine yielded promising results

The team behind the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine have come up with a new jab that could prevent cancer from returning in patients.

Experts who worked on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine teamed up with doctors in New York for the new creation, which has since undergone the first phase of its clinical trial with pancreatic cancer patients.

The results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s annual conference in Chicago, where principal investigator Dr. Vinod Balachandran, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, explained that the jab worked to boost long-term immune response for some participants.

The team at Pfizer are also responsible for a coronavirus vaccine.

"Unlike some of the other immunotherapies, these mRNA vaccines do appear to have the ability to stimulate immune responses in pancreatic cancer patients," Dr. Balachandran said, per The Telegraph.

The doctor went on to say the team is 'very excited' about the development, adding: "The early results that suggest that if you have an immune response you may have a better outcome."

The trial came after researchers discovered that pancreatic cancer patients who survive long term after surgery had large numbers of immune cells that work to help fight cancer.

Researchers recruited 20 patients who underwent surgery to have their cancer removed and had tumour samples shipped to BioNTech in Germany. There, the team were able to formulate an individualised vaccine for each patient that was then delivered intravenously, with patients also treated with immunotherapy.

The vaccines work by using a genetic code from the tumour that teaches the body's cells to create a protein to trigger an immune response; a technology that has already been used in Pfizer's Covid vaccine.

The vaccine proved successful in eight out of 16 patients.

After receiving the jab, the body recognises the cancer cells are foreign and sends immune cells to kill them if they return.

A total of 16 patients received the first of nine doses of the vaccine nine weeks after undergoing surgery, and the results found that half of those produced a significant immune response and remained cancer-free after 18 months.

Of the eight patients who did not respond to the vaccine, six relapsed. The researchers are still working to determine why the vaccine did not work in all patients.

Though the trial was only small, Dr Chris MacDonald, the head of research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said it was 'genuinely thrilling to see this progress in a cancer so under-served for so long'.

He added that the vaccine could be a 'vital new weapon against the deadliest common cancer'.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Macmillan’s Cancer Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, 8am–8pm seven days a week 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Cancer, World News, UK News, Science, Health