Sometimes it takes fire to fight fire. At least, that’s what researchers studying a new vaccine to battle pancreatic cancer are finding. The hope is that by introducing very particular viruses into the body after surgery to remove tumors, the body will be positioned to better battle any stray cancer cells on its own.
The promise shown with the vaccine so far is so great that researchers were recently awarded a grant to delve further into study of the new therapy. The vaccine is designed to introduce oncolytic viruses, which are those known to kill cancer cells, into the body shortly after surgery. The vaccine is meant to basically outsmart cancer cells and entice the body’s own immune system into killing them off. What makes oncolytic viruses so promising is that they are known to destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells in the process. In addition, the side effects are far less impactful than those associated with chemotherapy. Oncolytic viruses tend to only give patients mild, flu-like symptoms if any symptoms at all.
Out of all the different types of cancer out pancreatic cancer is what study backers are focusing on. This is simply because this form of cancer is known to be especially difficult to treat. Even when surgery is deemed successful, pancreatic cancer patients often suffer fatal relapses. These, in turn, give pancreatic cancer one of the bleakest survival rates at least than 10 percent at the five-year mark.
How soon the post-surgical vaccine might be made available for use remains unclear. The study that is ongoing is being conducted in Canada.
People who are at risk for pancreatic cancer are urged to discuss the condition with their doctors. Early risk assessments and possible screening protocols can help lead to faster detection and potentially more effective treatment.