Progress made on pancreatic cancer vaccine

Progress has been announced on a vaccine to fight pancreatic cancer, which currently kills three-quarters of those diagnosed within a year and 95 percent within five years.

The vaccine uses a new approach by teaching a patient's immune system to recognize and fight the cancer.

"What you're essentially trying to do is have the immune system recognize pancreatic cancer as being foreign," Dr. Dan Laheru told CBS News.

The vaccine is made of harmless, radiated pancreatic cancer tumors. The cells of the vaccine are then genetically engineered to make the immune system seem them as the enemy and attack the cancer.

"The idea is that, once the immune system now recognizes cancer cells as being foreign, they have potentially the ability to recognize cancer at any time point and kill them before they have the chance to spread," Dr. Laheru told CBS News.

The ability to have the body fight off the cancer rather than through the use of chemotherapy or radiation is important, CBS News reports, because those methods may negatively affect other parts of the body in their fight against cancer.

Trials of the vaccine, which are currently in the early stages with much work to go, are accepting only patients who have first had pancreatic cancer surgery.