Check out this article about a vaccine that gives hope to doctors and early-stage breast cancer patients!
Immunotherapy is a fast growing area of cancer research. It involves developing therapies that use a patient’s own immune system to fight and kill cancer. Moffitt Cancer Center is working on a new vaccine that would help early-stage breast cancer patients who have HER2 positive disease.
The HER2 protein is over-expressed in nearly 25 percent of all breast cancer tumors and is associated with aggressive disease and poor prognosis.
The research team developed a vaccine that helps the immune system recognize the HER2 protein on breast cancer cells. Their approach involves creating the vaccine from immune cells called dendritic cells that are harvested from each individual patient and then used to create a personalized vaccine. In order to determine if the HER2-dendritic cell vaccine is safe and effective, the Moffitt researchers performed a clinical trial that included 54 women who have HER2-expressing early-stage breast cancer.
Moffitt researchers assessed the effectiveness of the vaccine by determining the percentage of patients who had detectable disease within surgical specimens after resection. The absence of disease is termed a pathological complete response. They report that 13 patients achieved a pathological complete response and patients who had early non-invasive disease called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) achieved a higher rate of pathological complete response than patients who had early-stage invasive disease.
“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 Czerniecki, chair of the Department of Breast Oncology at Moffitt.