mRNA Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine Trial  - Stand Up To Cancer

mRNA Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine Trial 

mRNA Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine Trial 

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines have become a household name since their rapid implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some may be surprised that the development of these vaccines began before the pandemic, for the treatment of cancer.

The SU2C–Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Research Team, co-led by Vinod Balachandran, MD and Benjamin Greenbaum, PhD at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, launched the first Phase 1 clinical trial in December 2019 to test a personalized mRNA vaccine as a therapy for pancreatic cancer — a full year before mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 became available. This team received funding from SU2C in 2018 with support from the Lustgarten Foundation, as a part of the Pancreatic Cancer Collective. The vaccine developed for the trial was tailored to recognize the cancer cells present in each trial participant’s pancreatic cancer tumor and stimulate the body’s immune system to fight the cancer.


As reported in the journal Nature on May 10, 2023, the pancreatic cancer vaccine developed by the team caused an effective and lasting immune response in half of the trial participants. These patients also showed delayed recurrence of their pancreatic cancers, suggesting that the immune response activated by the vaccines may have the desired effect of keeping pancreatic cancer under control.

“These exciting results indicate we may be able to use vaccines as a therapy against pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Balachandran says. “The evidence supports our strategy to tailor each vaccine to each patient’s tumor.” – Vinod Balachandran, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and SU2C Co-Leader of the SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Research Team 


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