Local doctor weighs in on potential cancer vaccine

PITTSBURGH — Every other week, 75-year-old William Greenspan, who is originally from Kiev, makes his way to the Hillman Center for cancer treatment.

After today’s treatment, we told him that top doctors and scientists are predicting a cancer vaccine will be available by 2030.

“I just wish it would have come earlier for me and for others. But I will wait. I will be around,” Greenspan said.

Inside the Hillman Center, Dr. Jason Luke is the director of the Immunotherapy and Drug Development Center, meaning he’s on the front lines of the early phases of cancer drug development.

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He told us a cancer vaccine would be similar to the COVID vaccine in that it would use mRNA technology to build individualized vaccines for patients.

Right now, researches are hopeful they could see success in melanoma, colorectal and other types of tumor cancers.

“What we are currently doing in clinical trials is taking patients who had their cancers removed by surgery, studying their genetic code, making a personalized vaccine and giving it to them to try to stop the cancer from coming back,” Dr. Luke said.

In fact, this research has been going on for years, but because of breakthroughs with the COVID vaccines, it’s gaining more traction.

“The work on cancer vaccines was ongoing before COVID. The problem was, nobody believed. And they were considered fringe. But what COVID did, it brought this technology to all of us to show not only is it possible, it’s world-saving,” Dr. Luke added.

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