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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine adapted as a Vaccine for Cancer Patients

Oxford, - Almost a year ago, Brian Wright's lower jaw was replaced with a bone taken from his leg. Now, the doctors at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool, England, hope that the treatment they provide can prevent cancer, so that the tumor in his mouth does not return.

Reporting from VOA Indonesia Brian had recovered well, but doctors were concerned that the cancer in his head and neck was likely to return.

They have included Brian in a trial to test a vaccine made from his own tumor, an injection that should be able to keep his immune system on alert for early signs if the cancer recurs.

To make his vaccine, first, cancer cells are removed from a patient.

DNA mutations unique to the tumor are identified and then cut, and affixed to a harmless virus.

When the virus is injected into the body, it will train the immune system to target cancer cells, in hopes of destroying them, even before they form lumps. At first, Brian was hesitant to go through the trial.

"If you have cancer in your throat and they're going to inject you again with that cancer, it seems hard to imagine. But when you talk to people who explain (about this treatment, they say) that it's not going to make the cancer come back, but it's going to stop it," Brian Wright told the Associated Press.

Christian Ottensmeier, Clinical director of the cancer center that treats Brian Wright, said he is optimistic that the development could lead to a significant increase in the care available to patients.

"If we can train the immune system to select the cancer cells that cause cancer recurrence, at a time when we can't see them, then the likelihood of long-term survival for patients will be much higher," Christian Ottensmeier told the Associated Press.

The preliminary trial results of a small group of patients are quite promising. So far eight patients have received the vaccine and they have remained healthy a few months after getting treatment. The second group of eight patients was not given the injection.

So far, cancer in two of them has recurred. The vaccine they used at the Clatterbridge Cancer Center was highly experimental, but it was the same technology used to produce effective COVID-19 drugs during the pandemic.

The shot of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University was made in the same way. The mRNA technology used by the companies Pfizer and Moderna was also originally developed to treat cancer. Professor Adrian Hill of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University said the pandemic had accelerated the development of this vaccine.

"We have studied the safety of this vaccine from billions of people, whereas before it was only from thousands. This is a very helpful safety data. And, that means there will now be more investment in areas like cancer, where better therapies are still urgently needed," Adrian Hill added.

Brian Wright gets a dose of his vaccine every three weeks. He felt that his condition was okay. 

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