Vac­cine could pre­vent can­cer

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - SUE DUNLEVY

A VAC­CINE that treats one of the most com­mon forms of breast can­cer is be­ing de­vel­oped by an Aussie com­pany and one day it could be used to pre­vent can­cer.

The ther­apy stim­u­lates the body’s im­mune sys­tem to fight the can­cer and stud­ies have showed it pro­duced im­proved sur­vival rates in mice.

The vac­cine will help the one in four women whose breast can­cer over ex­presses the HER2 pro­tein as well as HER2 gas­tric can­cer pa­tients.

More than a mil­lion cases of gas­tric can­cer are di­ag­nosed each year, mostly in Asia, and the five-year sur­vival rate is only 30 per cent.

Tri­als in Europe have shown the vac­cine is safe and it is be­ing tri­alled in Asia.

While re­searchers hope it will help breast can­cer pa­tients they can­not trial it on these pa­tients in Aus­tralia yet.

This is be­cause stan­dard use of the drug Her­ceptin treat­ment would con­flict with prov­ing the vac­cine works.

Med­i­cal Univer­sity of Vi­enna re­searcher Ur­sula Wie­der­mann is the coin­ven­tor of the HER-vaxx.

If the vac­cine worked it would most likely be used in com­bi­na­tion with chemo­ther­apy, ra­di­a­tion and Her­ceptin to im­prove sur­vival, Pro­fes­sor Wie­der­mann said.

The idea is that pa­tients with HER2 pos­i­tive can­cers would be given the vac­cine be­fore any other treat­ment.

It would stim­u­late their im­mune sys­tem to fight the can­cer then other stan­dard treat­ments would be loaded on top to kill off the can­cer.

Re­peat vac­ci­na­tions would most likely be needed.

“It’s like tetanus, you need a booster vac­cine,” Prof Wie­der­mann said.

Even­tu­ally the vac­cine could be used to try to pre­vent can­cer, she said.

Mel­bourne firm Imu­gene is pro­vid­ing fund­ing to de­velop the vac­cine and run tri­als.

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