Q & A WITH DR . UENO
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
BENJAMIN GREEN , MD
NEW CANCER VACCINES TO TREAT AGGRESSIVE LIVER CANCER
Liver cancer is the fourth deadliest cancer in Hawai ‘ i , particularly affecting Native Hawaiian , Filipino , and Japanese men . Currently , immunotherapy , a treatment that uses a person ’ s immune system to fight cancer , is standard of care for liver cancer . However , immunotherapy is not a cure for liver cancer , as many patients continue to relapse or have minimal effects after receiving treatment .
Cancer vaccines are a promising treatment option that can stimulate the body ’ s natural anti-cancer immune system . However , previous clinical trials using vaccines to treat liver cancer have been unsuccessful . Benjamin Green , MD , liver cancer research specialist at the UH Cancer Center and under the mentorship of Xin Chen , PhD , published a study which found that the combination of vaccine and immunotherapy caused the immune system to kill tumors in mice with liver cancer . While this study was only in mice , the results provided a solid base for initiating a clinical trial of this anti-cancer vaccine in human patients in the future .
Additionally , Dr . Green received funding from the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation to develop a new cancer vaccine concept for treating cholangiocarcinoma , a rare but highly aggressive type of liver cancer in which standard treatments are ineffective . “ I am very excited to apply lessons from our recent publication toward developing another cancer vaccine for this deadly type of liver cancer ,” said Dr . Green .
HOW HAVE CLINICAL TRIALS IMPACTED YOUR JOURNEY WITH CANCER ?
It has played a significant role in my treatment because the medication I received came directly from a clinical trial that I conducted . I might have had more severe side effects from other treatment options without this medication . What was particularly beneficial for me was that these trials offered treatments suited to my specific condition – my MDS was linked to unique genetic changes . The clinical trial gave me hope and the possibility of controlling my cancer for a longer period of time with fewer harmful side effects .
WHY SHOULD CANCER PATIENTS CONSIDER CLINICAL TRIALS ?
Clinical trials are essential in the fight against cancer . First , they present an opportunity to access newer and potentially more effective treatment options that aren ’ t yet available in routine medical practice . These could be innovative drugs or treatment techniques that are still under investigation but shows promise . Second , clinical trials contribute to our overall understanding of cancer . By participating , you ’ re not just potentially helping yourself , but also contributing to research that might help future patients .
HOW DID CANCER AFFECT YOU AS A PERSON ?
I get asked this a lot . I don ’ t think I changed too much in terms of my personality , but one thing I try to do is to live my life to its fullest . It ’ s easy to say , but when you face a fatal situation , you truly understand what that means . You don ’ t want to waste time doing things that aren ’ t important . I recognize that on a daily basis .
2 INNOVATIONS SUMMER 2023
GRADUATE ASSISTANT , HAIDER HUSSAIN , INTERVIEWS DR . UENO