Researchers hope new vaccine could improve odds for pancreatic cancer

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Researchers hope new vaccine could improve odds for pancreatic cancer

When cancer develops in the pancreas, the diagnosis often comes after the cancer has already spread

Bruce Toma, 69, is making plans for traveling and sprucing up his house. That’s a far cry from the fall of 2017, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease and chemo left him in terrible shape.

“I was violently sick, I was losing weight terribly.  And what I would eat, I couldn’t keep down or it would just pass right through me,” Toma said.

Toma faced a grim prognosis.

The pancreas is a gland located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine. When cancer develops, symptoms tend to be vague, and diagnosis often comes after the cancer has already spread beyond the pancreas.

For the past decade, Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been bringing cutting-edge technology to the fight. A vaccine that teaches the body’s immune cells, called T-cells, to recognize and attack the cancer.

“What it can do very efficiently is deliver the protein, the pancreatic cancer protein, to the immune system and say ‘Hey T-cells,  recognize me,'” Jaffee said.

Read on: Researchers hope new vaccine could improve odds for pancreatic cancer

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