Personalized mRNA Vaccines to Combat Pancreatic Cancer

Category Science

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Scientists have developed a personalized mRNA vaccine to target and fight pancreatic cancer, which is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the US. 16 patients participated in phase 1 trials and showed improvement in their immune response when given the vaccine alongside chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The results have been published in the Nature journal.

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Scientists have created the first-of-its-kind personalized mRNA vaccine in an effort to combat pancreatic cancer.

Patients were enrolled in clinical trials to test this personalized approach to treat a type of pancreatic cancer known as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).

--- The approach to creating a cancer vaccine --- .

Recent studies have found elevated levels of neoantigens in PDAC. Neoantigens are proteins that generally form on the surface of cancer cells. These proteins can be targeted in developing personalized therapies, such as vaccines, to improve immune function in PDAC patients. The vaccines would increase T cell activity, a type of white blood cell that is part of our immune system.

PDAC is the most common form of pancreatic cancer, that is challenging to treat

A sample of cells from each individual's tumor was taken for DNA and RNA sequencing to create personalized vaccines. This procedure aided in the identification of mutant versions of proteins (neoantigens) that form in cancer cells. Finally, this neoantigen was used to create personalized messenger RNA vaccines.

The results showed that the individual vaccine candidate could improve immune response and delay the possibility of cancer relapse in the selected patients.

50% of the patients showed a positive response to the vaccine in the study

The phase 1 trials included 16 patients with PDAC. According to the study, all these patients had their tumors surgically removed. Each of the patients was given a personalized mRNA vaccine called adjuvant autogene cevumeran by the researchers. The vaccine was given alongside other treatments, such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

"They observed substantial T cell responses in 50% of patients, indicating that the vaccine can induce an improved immune response. After an 18-month follow-up, the elevated immune responses in patients correlated with longer times to relapse, whereas patients that showed no response to the vaccine experienced progression at a median of 13.4 months after the initial assessment," explained the official statement.

Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are the conventional lines of treatment used presently to fight pancreatic cancer

This preliminary study provides hope for treating PDAC with personalized mRNA vaccines. In the future, the researchers hope to conduct vaccine trials on a larger group of patients to test its efficacy.

If the personalized vaccine proves to be effective, it could significantly improve the lives of PDAC patients. PDAC is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States, and patients with this pancreatic cancer have a lower survival rate. Surgical and medicinal therapies are commonly used to delay the chances of cancer recurrence, but these strategies have a low success rate.

PDAC is the 10th leading cause of cancer mortality in the US

Various institutes, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, conducted the vaccine trial.

The results have been published in the journal Nature.

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