By Annette Pinder

According to, a new vaccine may help prevent some types of pancreatic and colorectal cancers from recurring, based on results from a Phase 1 clinical trial led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The study, published in Nature Medicine, says the findings, based on results of 25 individuals, are very exciting.

The trial participants included individuals with pancreatic or colorectal cancer who had previously had other therapies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. The participants’ immune system’s produced T cell responses after receiving the vaccine.

According to Dr. Anton Bilchik, MD, PhD, a surgical oncologist and chief of medicine and director of the Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Program at Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA, “T cells are an essential component of the immune system that have a profound impact on how cells function and also build a defense against diseases like cancer from occurring or relapsing.”

The research team found that 84% of all patients who received the vaccine developed a T cell response, and 100% of patients who received the two highest vaccine doses developed a T cell response. T cell responses were linked to reductions in tumor biomarkers and clearance of ctDNA, which is a type of DNA that comes from cancerous cells and tumors. The T cell responses were also associated with an 86% reduced risk of relapse or death.

More research is needed, but initial results indicate that a vaccine may be on the horizon that can teach the immune system to attack any remaining cancer cells in a patient’s body, to lower their risk of relapse and boost their hope for survival. Learn more at