Tags: Health Topics | breast | cancer | vaccine | HER2

Trial Offers New Hope for Breast Cancer Vaccine

Trial Offers New Hope for Breast Cancer Vaccine

(Dreamstime)

By    |   Thursday, 05 January 2017 05:40 PM

The Holy Grail in the fight against breast cancer is to develop a vaccine that would target cancer cells for destruction. And researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center may have that goal within their reach.

Frustrating the search for a cure is the immune system's inability to recognize cancer cells, thus allowing the body's own defenses to take over like it does for any other invaders.

In a trial study, Moffitt researchers developed a vaccine using patients' own cells that successfully recognized the breast cancer cells — and effectively stimulated an immune response in early-stage breast cancer patients.

All cells, including cancer cells, get their start from genes. Genes and the proteins they make can influence how breast cells behave, and in cancer cells, how they respond to treatments.

The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 gene, commonly referred to as the HER2 gene, makes HER2 proteins, which are receptors on breast cells. HER2 receptors help healthy breast cells grow and repair themselves. But this gene sometimes goes haywire and makes too many copies of itself (the definition of cancer). That's why HER2 genes and their proteins are constantly making headlines. In breasts, this can lead to aggressive disease and poor prognoses.

Researchers from Moffitt created a vaccine from immune cells called "dendritic" cells that are harvested from each individual patient to create a personalized vaccine.
In order to determine if the HER2-dendritic cell vaccine was safe and effective, the researchers performed a clinical trial in 54 women who had early-stage breast cancer. The women were injected with a dose of their personal dendritic cell vaccine once a week for six weeks into either a lymph node, the breast tumor, or into both sites.

The vaccines stimulated an immune response in about 80 percent of patients either in their blood and/or in their lymph nodes where the cancer is most likely to spread first. Importantly, the immune responses among the participants were similar, regardless of where the vaccine was administered. The researchers reported that the vaccines were well-received with only minor reactions, including fatigue, injection-site irritations, and chills.

The Moffitt researchers assessed the effectiveness of the vaccine by determining the percentage of patients who had detectable disease. They report that 13 patients showed complete absence of cancer and patients who had early noninvasive disease, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) achieved a higher rate of remission than patients who had early-stage invasive disease. They also noted that patients who achieved remission had a higher immune response within their lymph nodes.

"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," said Dr. Brian J. Czerniecki, chairman of the Department of Breast Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center.

 

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The Holy Grail in the fight against breast cancer is to develop a vaccine that would target cancer cells for destruction. And researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center may have that goal within their reach.
breast, cancer, vaccine, HER2
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2017-40-05
Thursday, 05 January 2017 05:40 PM
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