Experimental Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Wins Nature Plaudit

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Scientific journal Nature on Wednesday said a personalised treatment based on messenger RNA by BioNTech potentially bodes well for the future of fighting an extremely aggressive form of cancer after the regimen was shown to trigger a promising immune reaction in some pancreatic cancer patients.

Results of a trial in the first phase of testing on humans showed that half of the 16 trial participants, who had undergone surgery to remove their tumour, had developed T cells that can potentially recognise cancerous cells and stop them from re-emerging, Nature said in a paper on Wednesday.

The readout, which was reported first by BioNTech in June of last year, is adding to evidence that the technology behind COVID-19 vaccines has potential in oncology.

“These data are exceedingly promising, and will provide the framework for a planned further clinical trial,” the News & Views editorial segment of Nature said, citing the severity of the disease.

The treatment is co-developed by Roche’s Genentech.

Pancreatic cancer is among the most deadly forms of cancer because it typically grows undetected until an effective treatment is too late.

The trial focused on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which accounts for more than 90% of pancreatic cancer cases. Only about 10% of PDAC patients are alive within two years of diagnosis.

Together with accompanying commentary by external experts, publication Nature also carried an article on the results of the trial, which was conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Nature covers a wide range of topics in science and technology beyond medicine.

Among the eight trial participants with a detectable immune response, there was no evidence of cancer recurrence 18 months after surgery, while the median time to recurrence was 13.4 months among the non-responders.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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