Experimental breast cancer vaccine proves safe in phase 1 clinical trials


Recent studies on an experimental vaccine for breast cancer under the direction of Dr. Mary (Nora) L. Disis at the University of Washington Medicine Cancer Vaccine Institute have demonstrated that this vaccine induces a potent immune response to the important tumour protein ERBB2, formerly known as HER2.

Article Summary

In a study published in the journal JAMA Oncology, researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle report that an experimental vaccine against breast cancer successfully induced a potent immune response to a crucial tumour protein. The results imply that the vaccine might be effective in treating various forms of breast cancer.

Although HER2 is present on the surface of many cells, up to 30% of breast tumours overproduce it by a factor of 100 compared to healthy cells. Despite the fact that these “HER2-positive” tumours are more aggressive and more likely to come back after therapy, the overproduction of HER2 also sets off an immune response that may be helpful. 

Disis and her coworkers developed a DNA vaccination to elicit this type of response. DNA vaccines include the DNA instructions for the target protein, as opposed to protein vaccinations, which often contain the protein or a portion of the protein that you want the immune system to attack. compared to people who don’t mount an immunological response.Patients with HER2-positive breast tumours who build cytotoxic immunity, also known as cell-killing immunity, have a lower risk of cancer recurrence after treatment and a longer overall life than patients who do not do so.

This DNA is injected into the body, where it is absorbed by cells at the injection site, which then begin to create the protein that is encoded in the vaccine’s DNA. The immune system will then be presented with the protein by the cells, which is more likely to result in a potent, cytotoxic immunological response.

The DNA instructions for a portion of the HER2 that is typically found inside the cell were included in the vaccine that was utilised in this research. Stronger cytotoxic immune responses are known to be elicited by this intracellular component.

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health , the Helen B. Slonaker Endowed Professorship for Cancer Research and an American Cancer Society Clinical Professorship.


Source: UW Medicine


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