Advances in medical research create vaccine for breast cancer. Is this the first step towards a cure?
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the medical center Cleveland Clinic announced the first human trial of a breast cancer vaccine, more precisely against the most aggressive and deadly form of this disease. Upon authorization by the US drug authority, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the process brings hope to all women.
This study focuses on a vaccine that aims to prevent triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive and lethal form of the disease and is in phase I.
The maximum tolerated dose of the vaccine will be determined in patients with this type of breast cancer at an early stage, in order to characterize and optimize the body’s immune response.
“We are hopeful that this research will lead to more advanced testing to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine against this highly aggressive type of breast cancer,” said G. Thomas Budd, MD, of the Taussig Cancer Institute gives Cleveland Clinic and principal investigator of the study.
He continues: “In the long term, we hope this will be a true preventative vaccine that can be given to healthy women to prevent them from developing triple-negative breast cancer, the form of breast cancer for which we have the least effective treatments. ”
About triple-negative breast cancer
Despite accounting for only about 12-15% of all breast cancers, triple-negative breast cancer is responsible for a disproportionately greater percentage of deaths from breast cancer and has a higher rate of recurrence.
This form of cancer is twice as likely to occur in African-American women, and approximately 70% to 80% of breast tumors that occur in women with mutations in genes BRCA1 are triple-negative breast cancer.
“This vaccine approach represents a potential new way to control breast cancer,” said Vincent Tuohy, Ph.D., the vaccine’s lead inventor and immunologist at the Research Institute’s team. Lerner of the Clinic Cleveland.
“The long-term goal of this research is to determine whether this vaccine can prevent breast cancer before it occurs, particularly the more aggressive forms of this disease that predominate in high-risk women.”
How does the vaccine work?
The experimental vaccine targets a breast-specific lactation protein, α-lactalbumin, which is present in most triple-negative breast cancers. The goal is activate the immune system against this protein against emerging breast tumors that express the protein.
The vaccine also contains an adjuvant that activates an innate immune response that allows the immune system to mount a response against emerging tumors to prevent them from growing.
This vaccine could well be the start for the treatment of other diseasessince, according to the researchers, “it has the potential to be applied to other types of tumor”, namely, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.
“If successful, these vaccines have the potential to transform the way we control adult-onset cancer and increase life expectancy.”
How is this phase of the clinical study done
The study is based on preclinical research led by Dr. Tuohy, “who showed that the activation of the immune system against the protein α-lactalbumin was safe and effective in preventing breast tumors in mice” – a kind of lab rats.
The research was also instrumental in discovering that with a single vaccination it may be possible to prevent the occurrence of breast tumors while inhibiting the growth of existing breast tumors.
Funded by the US Department of Defense, the landmark study of Cleveland Clinic includes between 18 to 24 patients who have completed treatment for early-stage triple-negative breast cancer within the past three years and are currently tumor-free but who are at high risk of recurrence. Participants receive three vaccines, each two weeks apart.
If the results turn out as expected, the researchers plan to carry out a subsequent trial involving healthy women, without cancer, but at high risk of developing breast cancer due to the existence of mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.