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Hopeful Breast Cancer Trial of Immunotherapy

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 05, 2009 11:32 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Cancer, Breast Cancer, Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy trials will begin this spring for breast cancer.

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IMAGE SOURCE:   Seek magazine story 

Clinical trials should begin this spring on a new vaccine directed at preventing recurring breast cancer.

University of Arkansas Medical Science (UAMS) researchers believe that immunotherapy will trick the body into producing antibodies that fight breast cancer cells. 

The vaccine was developed through a decade of studying how the immune system responds to disease, Thomas Kieber-Emmons, director of basic breast cancer research at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute said to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Breast cancer cells are reportedly covered with carbohydrate antigens, a molecule capable of triggering the production of antibodies. But for some reason an immune system response is not stimulated.

With a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, researchers at UAMS developed a peptide antigen that mimics the carbohydrate making the body think its dealing with a carbohydrate when the peptide-based vaccine is injected.

The immune system responds and produces antibodies that target the peptides in the vaccine and the carbohydrates on the breast cancer cells.

Women participating in the trial will receive five doses of the vaccine, receiving one a week for three weeks then during the seventh and 19th weeks. 

Women involved in the clinical trial will have metastatic cancer or cancer that is actively spreading. Also women who have suffered a relapse will be included in the trial.  They would have had to be off chemotherapy for at least six months.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancers among women after skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Eventually, if the trials are successful, the vaccine would be used as an additional treatment option for patients.

Immunotherapy was used successfully on an unnamed patient suffering from melanoma, Patient Number Four, who underwent an experimental treatment for melanoma at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Patient Four went into complete remission after receiving an infusion of his own cloned T cells. #


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