Trial on Vaccine for Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

Trial on Vaccine for Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

US scientists have begun a trial on a vaccine that will shield individuals from developing pancreatic cancer.

Daily Mail reported that a team at Johns Hopkins University in the US administered the first preventive jab in a woman with a family history of the disease. They aim to involve 25 healthy volunteers at high risk of pancreatic cancer with genetic history.

‘The pancreatic cancer vaccine prompts the immune system to recognize cells containing the mutated KRAS gene through tiny protein 'flags' on the surface.’

According to experts, more than 90% of pancreatic cancer cases develop after the organ's cells develop a mutation to a particular gene called KRAS. The mutation makes cells divide uncontrollably, which eventually means cancer.

While some people are more prone to developing the KRAS fault than others, scientists speculate that pancreatic cancer can be prevented by eliminating the cells containing the errant gene.

And the novel vaccine does exactly the same.

It can equip the human body with the tools to find rogue cells, which can become cancerous in the long run. This enables the immune system to launch preemptive 'search and destroy' missions that will continually nip the problem in the bud, the report said.

Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine

Survival rates for pancreatic cancer have been stubbornly low, with three-quarters of patients dying within a year of diagnosis.

Thus, "the best way of treating this disease is catching it early because it's so challenging. As cancer develops, it becomes harder to treat. And it's very good at hiding from our immune system", oncologist Dr. Neeha Zaidi, who is leading the trial, was quoted as saying.

Zaidi noted that people aren't born with the KRAS mutation, it takes at least a decade from the first mutation occurring to the development of pancreatic cancer.

Besides exploring the safety profile of the vaccine, the trial will also gauge the 'immune response' it triggers. In particular, the team will look for T-cells capable of recognizing KRAS-infected cells.

Meanwhile, Zaidi noted that it could take up to a decade to get hard evidence that the vaccine prevented pancreatic cancer. "This is the first step to a very large goal," she stressed.

May 24, 2022

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