Les Rendez-vous Audace 2022: Dr. Eralda Kina answers your questions
Published on May 12, 2022
Les Rendez-vous Audace of the IRIC, held on April 27, brought together André Robitaille and three inspiring speakers around the theme “A world in transformation, a next generation in action”. Judith Lafaille, patient and ambassador, and Geneviève Deblois, principal investigator at IRIC and assistant professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Université de Montréal, spoke respectively about resilience and innovation in oncology. Eralda Kina, oncologist and doctoral student at IRIC in the laboratory of Claude Perreault, discussed her experience as a clinician and the great hopes she has in immunology and cancer research.
“As a doctor, even if I do the best possible and imaginable job, even if I improve humanism and accessibility to care – the ability of the individual I have before me to heal depends on what is done in research. Research is the powerful engine that drives advancement in medicine.” – Eralda Kina
Dr. Kina generously agreed to answer the questions received from the public during the broadcast of Les Rendez-vous Audace:
Do the new RNA vaccines developed for COVID-19 contribute to the search for a vaccine against certain cancers?
Eralda Kina: RNA vaccines were already known and studied in oncology before the pandemic. Moreover, several studies carried out in vitro and in vivo had shown promising results. The pandemic has accelerated our understanding of RNA vaccines and confirmed their effectiveness. Since this type of vaccine is complex to produce, the various advances made in the context of the pandemic could certainly be transposed in the oncological context.
What are the most promising opportunities for RNA vaccines in oncology?
E. K.: RNA vaccines could be used to (1) prevent the most common cancers by immunizing patients, (2) activate the immune system so that it can attack the cancer present in a patient and (3) prevent a recurrence in a patient who has already had a resected (removed by surgery) cancer. It is very likely that RNA vaccines would be used concomitantly with other treatments (such as checkpoint inhibitors).
Several clinical studies are currently underway to test RNA vaccines against several types of cancer (especially for colon and pancreatic cancers). Since the pandemic, interest in developing this type of vaccine in oncology has increased a lot!
What does the oncologist do when the patient doesn’t want to know a prognosis, but the family wants to know it in order to plan the next step?
E. K.: When the patient is apt, we must always ask for their consent before discussing the prognosis with the family. Patients generally give their consent for the information to be disclosed to their family. The therapeutic plan can thus be carried out. If the patient is reluctant to have the prognosis discussed with family members, it is important to understand the reasons behind this refusal, and to adapt to each situation.
After cancer, does our immune system return to normal? And if so, how long does it take?
E. K.: The immune system generally returns to normal within a few weeks after treatment. Obviously, multiple factors affect the speed of recovery of the immune system, such as the type of treatment given, the age, the state of health of the patient, etc.