In recent years. more scientists than ever before have focused on treating breast cancer through vaccination and immunotherapies. This means scientists are focusing their resources on getting patients’ immune systems to attack cancerous cells.

HER2 positive breast cancer vaccine

The Moffitt Cancer Center announced earlier this year their advancement of a vaccine meant to treat early stage, HER2 positive breast cancer. The HER2 protein is associated with more aggressive breast cancer that has a worse prognosis. The protein is found in 25 percent of all breast cancers.

Brian J. Czerniecki, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues have spurred patients’ immune systems to target breast cancer cells through their vaccine. This vaccine is administered during early stages of cancer development.

At the beginning of cancer development, the vaccine is the most effective in improving prognosis. To determine if the vaccine is safe and effective, the researchers looked at clinical trial results from 54 women with HER2-expressing early-stage breast cancer.

The patients’ own dendritic cells were used to create a breast cancer vaccine. The subjects were injected with the vaccine once a week for six weeks total. The study found that the majority of patients (about 80 percent) showed an immune response

The researchers also found that patients who were diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) had a larger rate of pathological complete response than those diagnosed in early stages of invasive breast cancer.

“These results suggest that vaccines are more effective in DCIS, thereby warranting further evaluation in DCIS or other minimal disease settings, and the local regional sentinel lymph node may serve as a more meaningful immunologic endpoint,” explained Czerniecki, chair of the Department of Breast Oncology at Moffitt.

T-cell vaccine for triple-negative breast cancer

TapImmune, Inc. is providing another example of immunotherapy and vaccinations for breast cancer patients. The immuno-oncology company announced that 50 percent of the patients necessary for their phase 2 clinical trial have been enrolled. The clinical trial is centered around understanding the effectiveness of a T-cell vaccine for treating triple-negative breast cancer.  

“We are very pleased with the rate of patient enrollment in this Phase 2 study, which has allowed us to reach this key milestone ahead of our projections,” said Dr. Richard Kenney, Head of Clinical Development for TapImmune. “We believe this speaks to the enthusiasm and dedication of our clinical investigators, trial site collaborators, and clinical operations team. We look forward with confidence to completing patient enrollment by the end of the year.”

These breast cancer vaccines, however, are focused on treatment instead of prevention. If you want to learn more about cancer vaccines that treat the disease, then click here.

Preventive breast cancer vaccine from Cleveland Clinic

If you want to focus on prevention, look no further than the research from the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Vincent Tuohy and his colleagues from the Cleveland Clinic created a vaccine that was able to prevent breast cancer in 100 percent of animal models tested. Their research was published in 2010.

Now the scientists have been working on the next steps in their research. The spin-off company Shield Biotech has led to the first phase of a clinical trial that will determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective in women at risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer prevention is the only way to truly make a difference in women’s lives. Breast cancer prevention not only saves lives but also stops women from ever contracting the disease in the first place.

To learn more about the Cleveland Clinic’s breast cancer vaccine, click here and here.

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