More good news today, this time from the world of health – scientists are optimistic about early results from research into a new breast cancer vaccine. It’s being developed by a team in Houston, Texas, and while they are quick to point out that it’s still early days, the outlook for the future looks very promising.
Video courtesy of ABC News
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The vaccine, catchily named AE37, works by training the body’s immune system to attack a protein called HER2 which helps tumours grow. HER2 is found in most tumours, but some have an over-active amount (known as HER2-positive cancer) which are usually more aggressive and harder to treat than other types.
The initial research shows that the vaccine accounts for a 43% reduction in the risk of recurrent breast cancer, which is a fantastic development for women everywhere. The aim is for the trials to be finished in Autumn 2012, although the lead researcher of the project said that the vaccine isn’t useful for treating patients with advanced forms of the disease, nor is it to be used as a replacement for other treatments.
Dr. Harold Burstein, a breast cancer specialist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said:
“It is exciting to imagine that a vaccine could prevent recurrence of breast cancer. These are provocative data that will hopefully generate enthusiasm for a definitive, large trial to assess this vaccine.”
One of the patients treated was Dr. Michele Zembo, 57, from New Orleans. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010 and undergone a year of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery before signing up for clinical trials of AE37. She claims to have felt no side effects aside from a slight rash and pain where the injections were done.
It’s probably quite hard to find someone whose life hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way, whether directly or through a family member or friend, so developments like this, although still in their infancy, are a massive step towards the fight for a cure.
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