The groundbreaking trial, led by Dr. Vinod Balachandran at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York, found that half of patients remained cancer-free for 18 months after tumor removal and receiving the injections.
The key to these vaccines seems to be proteins in pancreatic tumors, called neoantigens, that help alert the immune system to stop the cancer, according to MSK. Promising results were also presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.
Pancreatic cancer clinical trial
In eight of the 16 patients studied, the vaccine activated the patient’s own pancreatic cancer-recognizing T cells. These patients also showed slow recurrence of their pancreatic cancer, suggesting that vaccine-activated T cells may have the desired effect in controlling pancreatic cancer.
According to Balachandran, mRNA vaccines can stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack pancreatic cancer cells.
“Unlike some other immunotherapies, these mRNA vaccines appear to be able to stimulate an immune response in pancreatic cancer patients,” Balachandran said of the promising preliminary results.
“So we’re very excited about that, and the early results show that if you have an immune response, you might have a better outcome.”
Balachandran added that the results are also good news for other cancer patients, as pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat with traditional chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
The phase I trial was also heralded as “encouraging” by BioNTech.
“We are committed to overcoming this challenge by leveraging our longstanding research in the field of cancer immunization and are striving to forge a new turning point in the treatment of such intractable tumours,” said co-author Dr. BioNTech founder and medical director, Professor Ozlem Tureci. speak.