Breast cancer vaccine shows promise
A new vaccine may be effective in slowing the progression of breast cancer, even in patients where the disease has reached an advanced state.
The vaccine under study was developed by scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and works by targeting a protein (mammaglobin-A) that is found in high levels in breast tumor cells.
In the new study, which was a phase 1 trial, the researchers tested the vaccine on 14 patients with metastatic breast cancer, or cancer that had already spread to other parts of the body. They found that the vaccine was safe to use and led to fewer side effects, when compared with many pre-existing breast cancer treatments and excluded any severe and life-threatening effects.
The researchers also found that about 50 percent of the patients who received the vaccine showed no cancer progression after one year. In comparison, in the control group of patients who did not receive the vaccine, about one-fifth showed no cancer progression after one year.
The results of of the study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, suggest that the vaccine could be a safe and effective way to improve survival rates in metastatic breast cancer patients. The findings are significant in that patients with metastatic breast cancer often have weakened immune systems and have a more challenging time receiving effective treatment, researchers said.
The researchers are now planning a larger clinical trial to study the effects of the new vaccine on newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients.