New Breast Cancer Vaccine Safe, Successful

New Breast Cancer Vaccine Safe, SuccessfulNew Breast Cancer Vaccine Safe, Successful

A study on a new breast cancer vaccine developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found the treatment to be safe in patients with metastatic breast cancer. According to Medical Daily, the vaccine helped patients’ immune systems attack breast tumor cells and also slowed the cancer’s progression.

The vaccine works by helping a patient’s own body fight off breast cancer cells by pushing the immune system to target a kind of proteins called Mammaglobin-A. These proteins are only found in breast tissue, and express themselves at abnormally high levels when there’s a tumor. The vaccine prompts the immune system to target and destroy the proteins, which significantly slows breast cancer progression.

“Most physician scientists believe that breast cancer vaccines will be most successful for the treatment of patients with early-stage breast cancer, or for prevention in patients who are at high risk,” breast cancer surgeon and senior author of the study Dr. William E. Gillanders told the daily in an email.

Mammaglobin-A is found in as many as 80 percent of breast cancer cases, he said. “In theory, this means we could treat a large number of breast cancer patients with potentially fewer side effects.”

 Safety Assured

The phase 1 trial was conducted to test the vaccine’s safety, and researchers were pleased to find that it passed with flying colors “Despite the weakened immune systems in these patients, we did observe a biologic response to the vaccine while analyzing immune cells in their blood samples,” said Gillanders. It’s important to note that this vaccine did not “cure” the patient’s cancer or cause them to go into remission. “Cancer vaccines are not currently used as a substitute for other therapies — they are typically given in addition to other effective treatments,” Gillanders said.

Now that the vaccine has been shown to be safe for human use, the team will move on to a larger clinical trial. This time, they will use volunteers who were only recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and therefore would have much stronger immune systems.