Vaccine to treat breast cancer

by Hannah Thomas

Mammogram

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States have found evidence to suggest that therapeutic breast cancer vaccines can treat early, localised disease.

The pioneering new vaccine has been hailed as 'promising' after 85 per cent of women with the most common non-invasive form of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), were still showing protection after four years.

Each patient received four weekly injections of their personalised vaccine using the patient's own white blood cells,  which were manipulated in the lab.

The study, published in the Journal of Immunotherapy, compared pre-vaccine samples with post-vaccine samples and found almost 20 per cent had no disease present, indicating the immune system had destroyed the disease.

'We are continuing to see this pattern in our second, ongoing trial,' says study leader Dr Brian Czerniecki. 'I think these data more than prove that vaccination works in situations where the target is right.'

While the number of patients treated in the trial are relatively small, Dr Czerniecki believes they should have some idea of whether the vaccination reduces the risk of diseasereoccurance within the next two years.

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