Health Plus: Clinical trials may help find cancer vaccines - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Clinical trials may help find cancer vaccines

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

When patients exhaust their treatment options, they may qualify for a clinical trial. In fact some are being done in Eastern Iowa to help find a vaccine for cancer.

You'd think brain surgery would be enough for Dr. Tim Ryken to handle, but the ambitious Covenant Clinic neurosurgeon is also is working on a vaccine for brain tumors.

"Vaccines are typically raised against bacteria or viruses, but there's no reason why can't be raised against proteins that are on tumor cells," said Dr. Ryken. "That's really the theory that this is based on."

The study is part of a clinical trial that is the only one of its kind in our state.

Eastern Iowa patients who meet specific criteria are taking part in research studies that will hopefully lead to better treatments.

"Most patients think they need to go somewhere bigger like Iowa City or Mayo," said clinical research coordinator Kim Maxfield. "It's a great option for them here. There's quite a bit we can offer that other big cities can offer also."

Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo is currently involved in 30 trials at various stages.

"It's a good alternative for the patients," said Maxfield. "They don't have to just go on standard treatments, especially when it's end of life situations and maybe they have no other options available. This is a good thing for them to think about and maybe have some hope."

The promising results from these clinical trials will help patients with limited options now and likely save lives in the future.

"What we're after at this point is an actual randomized trial where people are put in a group with the vaccine versus a group without the vaccine and compared directly," said Dr. Ryken. "So it's exciting that we're being a part of that to really answer the question if this is really going to improve survival for the patients."

Talk to your doctor to find out if you qualify for clinical trials in our area.

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