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Vaccine Fights Breast Tumors In Mice

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, September 15, 2008 10:56 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Breast Cancer, Cancer, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Genentech, Herceptin

A vaccine may help the body attack breast cancer tumors.

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IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ Woman w. breast cancer bracelets/ author: JBryson

A vaccine that fights breast cancer right in your body would be a drug company’s dream, not to mention a dream for the million or so women worldwide who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

That is the hope of scientists working at Wayne State University in Detroit.

new vaccine delivered cancer-fighting cells destroying tumors in mice called HER2 positive cancer, which accounts for up to one third of all breast cancers. HER2 receptors promote normal cell growth, while the HER2 positive breast cancer cells can contain more receptors and promote an aggressive type of tumor.

The vaccine even eliminated HER2 tumors that had developed resistance to drugs designed to fight them, such as Herceptin (made by Genentech).

The research is reported in the journal Cancer Research. European experts warn the vaccine is still in its early stages and it’s still uncertain if it will work in humans.

The HER2/neu protein is overactive in breast, colorectal and ovarian cancers.

Wei-Zen Wei of Wayne State University in Detroit, who led the study made the vaccine from so-called naked DNA from the genes that produce the HER2 receptor. Added to an immune system stimulant they used an electroporation process, which uses an electrical pulse to force the mixture into leg muscles in the mice. There the genes started producing HER2 receptors that activated antibodies and immune cells.

"The immune system goes around the body to look for cancer cells," Wei said to Reuters.

When HER2 positive breast tumors were injected into the mice, their bodies began eradicating them. The application of a vaccine may be for women whose tumors have become resistant to drug therapy, researchers said.

Breast cancer is the top cause of cancer death among women worldwide.

The National Cancer Institute estimates 184,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2008, of them, 41,000 women will die of the disease. #


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