BREAST CAN­CER VAC­CINE

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - SUE DUNLEVY

AUS­TRALIAN re­searchers are de­vel­op­ing a new vac­cine to pre­vent breast can­cer.

The ground­break­ing jab stim­u­lates the body’s im­mune sys­tems — with stud­ies al­ready show­ing it can im­prove sur­vival rates in mice.

The vac­cine works by help­ing vic­tims to re­duce pro­duc­tion of a pro­tein that leads to a more ag­gres­sive form of the dis­ease.

It will also help gas­tric can­cer pa­tients.

The vac­cine is now be­ing tested on Asian gas­tric can­cer pa­tients af­ter be­ing shown to be safe for hu­man use.

A BREAST can­cer vac­cine de­vel­oped by an Aus­tralian com­pany could be the first treat­ment for many women bat­tling the dis­ease world­wide and even­tu­ally be used to pre­vent it al­to­gether.

The ground­break­ing new HER-vaxx jab stim­u­lates the body’s own im­mune sys­tems in the fight, and stud­ies have al­ready shown it to im­prove sur­vival rates in mice.

It’s be­ing driven by the Mel­bourne-based com­pany Imu­gene and will help the 25 per cent of women whose breast can­cer over-ex­presses the HER-2 pro­tein, which leads to a more ag­gres­sive form of the dis­ease.

It will also help gas­tric can­cer pa­tients where the HER-2 pro­tein is over-ex­pressed, lead­ing to sim­i­larly ag­gres­sive forms of that can­cer. The vac­cine is now be­ing tested on Asian gas­tric can­cer pa­tients af­ter be­ing shown to be safe for hu­man use.

Most of the world’s more than one-mil­lion gas­tric can­cer cases an­nu­ally are among Asians and the five-year sur­vival rate is just 30 per cent. But re­searchers can’t con­duct tri­als on Aus­tralian breast can­cer pa­tients yet be­cause it would con­flict with the now stan­dard use of the ex­pen­sive drug Her­ceptin, pre­vent­ing as­sess­ment of its ef­fi­cacy.

Co-in­ven­tor of HER-vaxx, Med­i­cal Univer­sity of Vienna re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Ur­sula Wie­der­mann said it would most likely be used in com­bi­na­tion with chemo­ther­apy, ra­di­a­tion and Her­ceptin to im­prove sur­vival.

The vac­cine would be the first treat­ment for women di­ag­nosed with HER 2 pos­i­tive can­cers to stim­u­late their im­mune sys­tems. Other treat­ments would then be piled on top of the vac­cine to kill off the can­cer, with re­peat vac­ci­na­tion doses to keep the dis­ease at bay over the pa­tient’s life­time.

“It’s like tetanus, you need a booster vac­cine to keep the mem­ory of the im­mune sys­tem ac­ti­vated,” Prof Wie­der­mann said.

It would also be used to in­oc­u­late those deemed at risk.

“If you had a cer­tain gene and your risk of can­cer was high it would make sense to pro­phy­lac­ti­cally vac­ci­nate (to stim­u­late an im­mune re­sponse),” she said.

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