PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A dramatic breakthrough in cancer treatment is underway in Portland.

Researchers at Providence Cancer Institute announced results from a study that features a new treatment for pancreatic cancer on Wednesday.

The pancreas is a body part in your abdomen that regulates blood sugar and helps with digestion. About one in 64 people may develop pancreatic cancer, and the outcome is often deadly — there is about a 10% survival rate within five years.

Providence Cancer Institute’s novel work treated a woman with advanced pancreatic cancer. She had gone through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but the cancer had spread to her lungs.

Scientists removed some of the cancer cells from her blood and used gene therapy to boost her immune cells, essentially teaching them to fight the cancer. Then they placed the cells back into her. The woman isn’t cured, but the tumors shrank dramatically and show no sign of growth since June of last year.

The research was published Wednesday in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors believe this type of adoptive cell therapy could be used for patients with most other types of cancer. There is now a study of 24 patients underway.

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