More than 44,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, and nearly three-quarters of them die within a year, according to statistics.
But a trial conducted at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick has given renewed hopes in stabilizing a patient’s immunity.
“It’s a promising lead," Elizabeth Poplin from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey told CBS New York. “We’re giving them a vaccine into the pancreas and into their arm in the hopes of boosting their immunity to the cancer.”
Six patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer were tested, and the disease was “clinically stable” in four of them after a year. Injecting the vaccine directly into the pancreatic tumor seems to reawaken the body’s immunity toward the disease, Poplin said, according to NorthJersey.com.
When the investigation, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, began two years ago, the vaccine was known as PANVAC, which contains genes that might stimulate that immune system.
“There has not been a significant breakthrough in the treatment of pancreatic cancer since an upgrade in chemotherapy in the mid 1990s,” Poplin said, according to a press release from CINJ.org. “When you talk about a disease that on average carries only a five-percent survival rate, the possibility of identifying better treatment and management options, especially by potentially utilizing the body’s own defenses, has become a challenge that my colleagues and I are committed to tackling.”
To be eligible for the clinical trial, patients had to have been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer that has not metastasized, and cannot have faced chemotherapy yet.