Dr. Vincent Tuohy from the Cleveland Clinic and his team have been working on advancing a breast cancer vaccine for patients since 2010 when they published a paper showing their vaccine is effective in preventing breast cancer in 100 percent of animal models.
Last month, Dr. Tuohy has come one step closer to making the breast cancer vaccine a reality by obtaining a major grant from the Department of Defense. In fact, this grant is large enough for Tuohy and the Cleveland Clinic to begin Phase I clinical trials on the breast cancer vaccine, according to the news station WQAD.
The Department of Defense has donated $6 million to the Cleveland Clinic to advance their research on the preventive breast cancer vaccine. Phase I testing of the vaccine will determine the right dosage and safety for breast cancer patients.
“It targets a protein that’s found in most or the vast majority of what are called triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative is the most lethal form of breast cancer,” Dr. Tuohy explained.
This breast cancer vaccine targets a protein found in most forms of triple negative breast cancer as well as a type that is genetic and found alongside Braca-1 gene mutations. While many women today with this type of mutation are considering undergoing mastectomies and breast reconstruction, a preventive vaccine would allow these same women to save their breasts and their lives.
“We do about 50 voluntary mastectomies here a year at the Cleveland Clinic,” Dr. Vincent Tuohy told the news source. “And it’s a horrible thing for women to go through. It’s a life-changing event for them. I think a vaccine would be a much more civilized way for controlling their problem.”
When the Phase I clinical trials begin, it will still take at least 10 years before the vaccine would be available for women in a hospital or clinic. Tuohy has been working at the Cleveland Clinic to make a preventive breast cancer vaccine a reality since 2002. It has been difficult gathering the money and support Tuohy has needed to advance this vaccine, but things have been turning around lately.
This vaccine is hugely important for women worldwide since it could potentially put an end to the disease once and for all. That would mean no more mammograms, no more ultrasounds, no more lumpectomies or mastectomies, and no more chemotherapy or radiation to treat breast cancer. This would save lives and revolutionize the medical industry.
Other scientists worldwide have been jumping on the bandwagon of cancer vaccination programs. For example, researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Bologna have created a breast cancer vaccine to help fight HER2-positive breast cancer in mice, according to ScienceDaily.
Since HER2-positive breast cancer affects as many as 20 to 30 percent of all breast cancer cases, this could be a very positive development for women worldwide as well. The researchers attached an antigen that is normally expressed in breast cancer cells onto the top of a viral particle and injected it into the mice. This was meant to stimulate the immune systems of the mice to fight and kill cancer cells.
“Our virus-like particle with the added cancer antigen makes the body believe it is under attack. This makes the immune system produce large amounts of antibodies targeted at the cancer antigen, which then fights the cancer cells in the mice,” explained Associate Professor and author of the study Adam F. Sander from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.
The best part of this particular vaccine is that it has both a therapeutic effect as well as a preventive effect. Clearly, cancer research based on boosting immunity and expanding vaccination is becoming a more common and popular area to study.
If the research at the Cleveland Clinic succeeds, it is possible that in 10 years, the first women could receive a vaccine that would prevent breast cancer. This could be a real game changer in treating this disease. The future could potentially be free of breast cancer. What a beautiful world that would be.