Lincoln professor to lead vaccination trial to extend cancer patients' life expectancy
A vaccination which could stop cancer from growing and spreading is to be trialled by a team led by a Lincoln professor.
Professor Oleg Eremin has been researching immunotherapy, which involves using the body's own defence system to tackle cancer, for more than ten years.
He and his team intend to use a vaccination which could possibly extend a patient's life expectancy by several months.
"The vaccination, we believe, will stop the cancer from growing and spreading," he said.
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"Depending on how extensive the terminal cancer is and how poorly the patient was, some individuals could experience a good quality of life for some months.
"We hope to start the study in August, but it is important to note this is not a cure for cancer.
"It is an important step in eventually producing a cure but we have to tell all the patients it is new and experimental and there is no guarantee it is going to work."
The vaccination will use human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) peptides to attempt to stimulate the body's defence system.
hTERT peptides are on nearly all cancer cells, but not on normal cells.
Professor Eremin hopes to vaccinate 30 patients in the study.
It will take place at Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham as there aren't the facilities in Lincoln.
"All these patients have very advanced cancers," he said.
"The majority will be from Lincolnshire and hopefully we can help extend their life expectancy by a couple of months.
"Unfortunately we don't have the facilities in Lincoln but we have come to an agreement with Queen's Medical Centre to do it there."
Professor Eremin's research work is funded by charity work done by Candles, a charity set up by two breast cancer survivors.
"Without the funding everything would grind to a halt," he said.
"We are depending on people's goodwill and people donating money for the trial.
"The charity has very few administrative costs. About 95 per cent of what is donated to Candles is used to support our work.
"It is very expensive because most of this is rather new and you have to go through rigorous quality controls."
Pam Connock, who founded Candles with her friend Dyllys Firth, said the money they raise couldn't go to a better cause.
The charity has launched a new fundraising drive, aiming to take their total fundraising to £1million.
"We started this in 2001 with the idea of raising £50,000 and it was going to be our gesture to Professor Eremin who was my surgeon," she said.
"We raised that quite quickly and then realised how much Lincolnshire was supporting us and Professor Eremin reached a point in the research that was exciting.
"We decided we would run with this and last year we reached the £700,000 plus mark and have now decided because of where the research is we need to go with this quickly.
"We have a lot of help from a lot of people which we are very grateful for."