Few diseases are as brutally efficient as pancreatic cancer. Despite surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, it typically kills a person within a year of detection.
Like other cancerous cells, pancreatic tumor cells seem disguised—going unnoticed by the body's immune system as they wreak havoc. Scientists seeking to blow this cover have now devised a way to attack the tumor by revving up the immune system.
The procedure uses white blood cells from healthy people. The scientists mix these cells with the patient's white blood cells in a laboratory dish, culture the combination for a day or two, and then inject it directly into the tumor. In response, the patient's immune system swings into action to reject the foreign cells, and it simultaneously attacks the tumor.
In the March 15 Cancer, the first published results of this therapy for pancreatic cancer show that the technique appears safe and, in some patients, extends survival time.