A vaccine that aims to help people with advanced pancreatic cancer live longer is being trialled by more than 1,000 patients.
Some 53 hospitals are taking part in the TeloVac test of the GV1001 vaccine. It 'primes' patients' immune systems to kill off cancer cells, and is thought to make chemotherapy work better.
Pancreatic cancer is notoriously hard to treat, with just 3% of people diagnosed with the disease living more than five years. The UK sees 7,600 new diagnoses annually.
People given GV1001 in smaller studies - alongside chemotherapy - lived about three months longer than people who had only chemotherapy. But even with the injection's help, they lived an average of just 8.6 months.
Liverpool Cancer Research UK Centre director John Neoptolemos, who is leading the research, told The Times: "This will be a pivotal trial. If it's successful, it would make a real difference to the way clinicians behave and patients are treated."
GV1001, made by South Korean firm KAEL GemVax, contains a fragment of the enzyme telomerase, which is normally found in human embryos and which cancer cells use to divide unchecked.
It teaches T-cells in the immune system to recognise any cells that are making telomerase - which in adults means they are cancer cells - and attack them.
The results of the new trial, which involves 1,100 people, will be announced next autumn and if it is judged a success a vaccine could be approved in late 2013 or 2014.