Medical Minute: Kidney Cancer Vaccine

Faith was more than a mere crutch for Pastor Jerry Burnside when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

"I was not afraid of dying, my faith sustained me in that, but I dreaded the process of dying," says Jerry.

Kidney cancer is highly curable if it's caught early, but it does not respond well to standard therapies once it spreads. Jerry's had spread, so his prognosis was grim.

Prayer brought him peace. Science brought him hope. Duke University researchers have developed a vaccine by taking blood cells from patients, creating specialized cells and exposing them to material from their own tumor cells.

The cells are then injected back into the patients where they trigger immune cells to attack the cancer.

"We don't see a very dramatic impact on the tumor itself. We don't see tumors melt away, but what we see is that these tumors just don't grow anymore," says Johannes Vieweg, M.D.

Dr. Vieweg says patients on the vaccine have had no negative side effects.

"So, I think these are well tolerated vaccines, highly specific, highly targeted."

It's been more than three years since a doctor told jerry he'd be lucky to live six months.

"I couldn't have had any better results or less complications," Jerry says.

The church cemetery is Jerry's sanctuary for prayer and meditation, but he's not ready to stay there just yet.

For more information, contact:

Amy Austell

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