Breast cancer is one of the leading cancer types to be reported in females worldwide. Although new and improved techniques for detecting and treating breast cancer have been developed, yet many unfortunate ones succumb to this deadly disease in their battle against it.
A clinical trial, though in its preliminary stage has achieved a success in developing a vaccine for breast cancer. The trail carried at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis establishes that the new vaccine is safe for treating metastatic breast cancer patients. The vaccines found to prepare the immune system of the patients to attack breast cancer cells and retarded the cancer development.
As per the researchers, the vaccine works by triggering a type of white blood cell of the body’s immune system to target and destroy an exclusive protein (found only in breast tissue), called mammaglobin-A. Earlier research shows that during tumor, high level of this protein is expressed. However, the function of mammaglobin-A in healthy breast tissue is still unknown.
Senior author of the study and breast cancer surgeon William E. Gillanders, believes finding a way to target mammaglobin is very promising as the protein is expressed in nearly 80 percent cases of breast cancers. Which means the vaccines will help in treating large majority of breast cancer patients along with conceivably less side effects.
Researchers are of the view that the vaccines will yield better result for patients diagnosed with initial-stage breast cancer or for forestalling of breast cancer in individuals who are more likely to develop breast cancer. However, in certain cases where mammaglobin-A is not produced by the tumors the vaccine will remain ineffective.
For the trial, 14 patients suffering from metastatic breast cancer were vaccinated. The phase 1 trial was carried to determine the vaccine’s safety. No major, life threatening after effect was reported, the only side effect observed was mild flu-like symptoms and tenderness along with rash at the site of vaccination. Most importantly, the vaccine was found to be effective in retarding cancer development in patients who have feeble immune cells due to the advance stage of the disease and exposure to chemotherapy sessions. After a year’s time, cancer advancement was not noted in half of the breast cancer who was vaccinated.
Gillanders and his research team are planning to carry trials to examine the vaccine in patients with initial stages of breast cancer. These patients would have stronger immune systems in comparison to patients who have faced extensive cancer treatments. This will help them to get a better picture of effects of vaccines on the immune system than their initial trial.
The vaccine definitely seems promising, with future large clinical trials, chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries that have severe side effects can be replaced with a simple procedure like a vaccination.
Source: Wasington University in St.Louis