UQ tri­alling cancer jab

Queens­land sci­en­tists to start tri­als after win­ning re­search grant

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - SUE DUN­LEVY

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.”

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