UQ trialling cancer jab
Queensland scientists to start trials after winning research grant
THEY’RE already leading the world in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, now UQ scientists are on the verge of a major breakthrough in breast cancer treatment. Researchers will soon begin trials in mice of a breast cancer vaccine which prevents the disease from reoccurring.
A GROUNDBREAKING breast cancer vaccine is about to be trialled by Queensland researchers to stop the cancer returning, and could eventually be used in other cancers.
The jab will not prevent cancer in the first place but will be given to people diagnosed with the disease.
The hope is the vaccine will prompt the patient’s own immune cells to recognise and eliminate cancer cells.
And it could be personalised and built on samples from the patient’s own tumour.
In this way, if the cancer returns the immune system would fight it off.
The jab will also be trialled in combination with immunotherapy drugs to see if it enhances these treatments by targeting the right cancer cells.
Professor Roberta Mazzieri from the University of Queensland has been awarded a grant from the National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia (NBCF) to test a series of vaccines for triple negative breast cancer and brainmetastatic breast cancer in mice.
Cancerous tumours spread because they hide from the immune system and the vaccine would provide information to the immune system so it knows how to find the cancer cells, Prof Mazzieri said.
“The project is exploring what is the best information to provide to the immune system and the best way to deliver that information,” she said.
The research is the forerunner to human clinical trials which could start in the next three to four years.
The project is one of 16 game-changing research grants worth a combined $10 million awarded by the NBCF.
Foundation CEO Sarah Hosking said the projects would help the foundation’s push to eliminate deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
About 15 per cent of women with breast cancer have triple negative breast cancer yet it accounts for about one in four of all breast cancer-related deaths.
Brisbane mum Karen Allen has experienced the fear a breast cancer diagnosis brings.
The emergency department nurse (pictured) was aged just 33 and had two toddlers when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2000.
“A vaccine would be amazing because more and more we are seeing younger women with triple negative cancer detected,” she said.
“My sons were two and four when I was diagnosed and all I kept seeing was their futures and me not being part of it.
“I didn’t want them to see me die, then it kicked in that I want to fight and get better and it was a real sense of achievement to do that.”