Breast Cancer Vaccine?: image via Metro.co.uk The most promising news yet, related to prevention of breast cancer, was published by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
A vaccine that uses the body's own immune system to attack tumor cells has been shown to be effective as a killer of established cancerous breast tumors in mice. The same vaccine was effective at preventing breast cancer in mice that were genetically altered to develop breast cancers. And this vaccine was effective with only one administration.
The team of researchers from the Department of Immunology at the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic used a natural substance called alpha-lactalbumin that is only released by breast cancer cells and by normal cells during lactation to create a vaccine. The vaccine enabled the mice to develop antibodies powerful enough to prevent breast cancers and kill existing cancers by using the mouse's own immune system to fight against it.
The Cleveland Clinic researchers are very positive about the application of this technology for women, although, of course, some changes would have to be made. But alpha-lactalbumin is also the most common protein expressed in human breast cancers, as well as in lactating women. Though the protein causes inflammation during lactation, it does not cause inflammation in non-lactating females; therefore, when administered to post child-bearing and premenopausal women, researchers believe that it will be a safe time to allow the body to develop immunity to the cancerous proteins.
Dr Vincent Tuohy, lead researcher, would like to start human testing later this year. Unless this research is fast-tracked, however, he does not expect to have a human vaccine approved for another 10 years!
The research was published in the May 30, 2010 issue of the journal Nature.
sources: IrishTimes via National Post; Nature Medicine