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Hope for pancreatic cancer patients as jab that kills rogue cancer cells is developed
[ 來源:DailyMail   發布日期:2014-03-11 16:24:22  責任編輯:ALICE SMELLIE  瀏覽次 ]
A vaccine that fights pancreatic cancer has begun clinical trials in the UK.

Experts at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre - who treat over 28,000 patients a year - are working with other UK researchers to create the vaccine. It will be used in conjunction with traditional treatments.

The pancreas is a gland which produces and releases vital substances such as digestive enzymes and insulin - which regulates blood sugar levels.


Pancreatic cancer is responsible for around 9,000 deaths in the UK every year, with fewer than four per cent of patients surviving five years or more after diagnosis.

It is the ninth most common cancer - around 9,000 are diagnosed annually.

Symptoms tend to manifest once the cancer is advanced and include unexpected weight loss, upper abdominal pain and jaudice - all of which could be a multitude of illnesses. So the condition is often diagnosed late.


Treatment ideally involves removal of the tumour, though such surgery is only suitable for up to 20 per cent of patients. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may also be offered.

The idea behind the vaccine is that it will be offered after surgery.  

One reason for the very low survival rate is that although the cancer may appear to have gone into remission, the cells may have spread across the body and later form secondary tumours.

The immune system doesn’t recognise the cells so they are able to multiply.

‘The vaccine will work to manipulate the body’s immune system to recognise microscopic cancer cells, meaning a patient is able to fight any remaining cells before the cancer forms again in any other parts of the body,’ says Professor Daniel Palmer, chair of medical oncology and one of the trial leads.


It works along the same lines as any vaccine - by injecting a little of the disease into the body the immune system is stimulated.

Usually patients would be offered chemotherapy, and should this be thought appropriate, they will still receive it alongside the vaccine, which has minimal side effects - fatigue and nausea may be experienced.

Immunotherapy is being explored for many types of cancer. Previous research has shown that it can destroy surviving cancer cells and has minimal side effects.

The first ‘cancer vaccine’ was approved in 2010 for prostate cancer and immunotherapy is currently showing great promise in lung cancer treatment.

The first patient to be recruited to the trial is 64 year old Allan Hellier, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2013 and had surgery on Christmas Eve.


He has had his first dose of the vaccine via an injection into the stomach two weeks ago.

Initially he received three injections every two days. This has now been reduced to weekly and will taper off over the duration of his two year treatment to every three months.

‘I see it as a bit of an insurance policy to be honest,’ he says. ‘I want to give myself the best quality of life with my wife Angela and our children and grandchildren.’ So far, he says he feels absolutely fine.

‘Also, it’s fantastic to think I could be part of proving the vaccine is a potentially life-saving form of treatment.’

‘Immunotherapy is an exciting area of research in the field of pancreatic cancer. We look forward to hearing about the results,’ says Maggie Blanks, CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

For more information:  www.clatterbridgecc.nhs.uk


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