Vaccine could prevent cancer
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.