Recent mRNA Vaccine Study for Pancreatic Cancer: Answers for Patients & Families


A team of researchers recently published a paper in the journal Nature that caught the attention of news media and all those affected by pancreatic cancer. Although a small, early phase clinical trial, results from the study showed that using mRNA vaccine technology to deliver personalized treatment holds promise for patients with pancreatic cancer.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) explains more about the study, implications for patients with pancreatic cancer and the field of immunotherapy overall.

What were the results of the study?

As reported in the journal Nature on May 10, half of the 16 patients in the study responded to the treatment, which included the personalized vaccine, another immunotherapy drug known as a checkpoint inhibitor and chemotherapy after surgery to remove their pancreatic tumor. In eight individuals, the vaccine activated immune cells called T cells, which kept the cancer in check. These patients had longer progression-free survival (period of time during which the disease did not worsen) compared to those who did not respond to the treatment. Overall, results “suggest that the vaccine produces an effective and lasting immune response,” according to an article on the study from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Can I enroll in this clinical trial?

This clinical trial has closed and is not currently active. PanCAN Patient Services can help you find clinical trials specific to your needs. Please contact us or use our Clinical Trial Finder.

What does this study mean for patients with pancreatic cancer?

The study shows that using mRNA vaccine technology to deliver personalized treatment holds promise for patients with pancreatic cancer, and that taking an immunotherapy approach may become an effective strategy for the disease. Additional follow up is needed to determine whether this approach is effective on a broader scale. One question the researchers note in particular: Why did some patients respond to the treatment and others did not? Understanding more about this stands to help determine whether there are different ways to better tailor the treatment to individuals. Another goal is to find potential biomarkers to help to identify which patients are most likely to benefit.

To learn more, check out the full article at

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