Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine

Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of cancers, with few treatment options. Now, an mRNA vaccine treatment, called autogene cevumeran, that is tailored to each individual’s cancer has produced promising results in a small initial trial.

In the trial, 16 people were given the vaccine around nine weeks after having an operation to remove their tumours. In eight, the vaccine didn’t elicit an effective immune response and their cancers returned. But in the other eight, the vaccine resulted in a good response and they remained cancer-free 18 months later. The results were announced by the vaccine’s developer, BioNTech, on 5 June.

This is a very small initial trial. Larger and longer trials will be needed to confirm the result. The trial only involved people whose cancers were detected early enough that they could undergo an operation to remove tumours before they spread to other parts of the body. Only around 10 per cent of people are diagnosed at this stage, says Chris Macdonald, head of research at charity Pancreatic Cancer UK. In other words, even if larger trials confirm these initial results, it remains to be seen if this vaccine can help people with more advanced pancreatic cancer – though that is, of course, the hope.

The problem is that the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are vague, says Macdonald. By the time it is detected, 70 per cent of people are so ill that it is too late for any treatment.

Source: https://www.newscientist.com/

Revolutionary Cancer-Killing Virus Tested

Scientists have injected the first human patient with a new ‘cancer-killing virus‘ that has been shown to shrink solid tumours in animals. The virus, known as Vaxinia, has been genetically engineered to infect, replicate in and kill cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells. Tests on animals have shown it is able to reduce the size of colon, lung, breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer tumours.

While other immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have been effective in certain cancers, patients often relapse and eventually stop responding to or develop resistance to this type of treatment, according to the researchers. In contrast, Vaxinia can prime the patient’s immune system and increase the level of a protein called PD-L1 in tumours, making immunotherapy more effective against cancerVaxinia, (full name CF33-hNIS VAXINIA), is a type of ‘oncolytic virus‘ – a virus found in nature that has been genetically modified specifically to fight cancer. It is being developed by Imugene Limited, a company specialising in novel therapies that activate the immune system against cancer.

Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitors,‘ said Daneng Li MD, principal investigator and assistant professor of City of Hope‘s Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research. ‘Now is the time to further enhance the power of immunotherapy, and we believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients in their battle with cancer.’

The Phase 1 clinical trial aims to recruit 100 cancer patients with metastatic or advanced solid tumours across approximately 10 trial sites in the United States and Australia. It is anticipated to run for approximately 24 months. Patients will begin by receiving a low dose of Vaxinia, either as an injection directly into tumours or intravenously. Once the safety of Vaxina has been demonstrated, some participants will also receive an immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab, which improves the immune system’s ability to fight cancer-causing cells.

Interestingly, the same characteristics that eventually make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy or radiation treatment actually enhance the success of oncolytic viruses, such as CF33-hNIS,’ said Yuman Fong MD, the Sangiacomo Family Chair in Surgical Oncology at City of Hope and the key developer of the genetically modified virus.

Source: https://www.cityofhope.org/
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Magnetic Nanoparticles Fry Cancerous Cells

Chemotherapy could be up to 34 per cent more effective thanks to a new technique which combines the treatment with magnetic particles that fry cancerous cells. Researchers at University College London (UCL) found the combination of heat and chemo drugs makes the process more effective. Tiny magnetic nanoparticles attach themselves to the cancerous cells of a tumour and also carry the chemotherapy drug.

When doctors apply a harmless magnetic field to the area from outside the body it activates the nanoparticles’ magnetic properties and causes them to warm up, heating the trapped cancerous cells. Research reveals this damages the tumour and makes it more vulnerable to pre-existing drugs.

The research has so far only been tested in a lab, but researchers say the early findings are significant. Human breast cancer cells, glioblastoma (brain cancer) cells, and mouse prostate cancer cells were all treated, in a test tube, with this new technique. Doxorubicin — a commonly used chemo drug — was applied to the magnetic nanoparticlesHeat and doxorubicin together killed 98 per cent of brain cancer cells after 48 hours. The drug only killed 73 per cent of cells when applied without heat. For the breast cancer cells, 89 per cent of the cancer was eliminated by the combination, and this drops to just 77 per cent for the drug alone.

Our study shows the enormous potential of combining chemotherapy with heat treatment delivered via magnetic nanoparticles,” said Senior author Professor Nguyen T. K. Thanh. ‘While this combination of therapy is already approved for the treatment of fast-growing glioblastomas, our results suggest it has potential to be used more widely as a broad anti-cancer therapy. ‘This therapy also has potential to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, by ensuring it is more highly targeted on cancer cells rather than healthy issue. This needs to be explored in further pre-clinical tests.’

The results have been published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B,

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/