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Is a breast cancer vaccine on the horizon?

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine have been working on a jab to control the disease for two decades. The study’s latest results show a great deal of promise.

At present, some seven million women across the globe suffer from breast cancer, making it one of the deadliest forms of the disease on Earth.

In 2022 alone, the National Breast Cancer Foundation estimated that 43,550 female and 530 male patients (yes, men can have it too) in the US would die from it.

For decades, scientists have been striving to find a cure, exploring various options from surgery and radiation to hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

Unfortunately, their efforts to date have fallen short, due to the fact that cancer arises from our own cells and is, consequently, able to mutate uncontrollably.

Facts About Breast Cancer

‘Breast cancer is not a single disease, which makes it more difficult to treat,’ explains Dr. Kotryna Temcinaite, of Breast Cancer Now.

‘There are many types of breast cancer and treatments that work well for some people, may not work as well for others. That’s why we need to undertake further research into the disease.’

As luck would have it, however, the search for a genuinely viable treatment may soon be coming to an end because researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine just made a very promising breakthrough.

This is according to their recently published study, which revealed the results of the first phase of human trials for a plasmid DNA-based vaccine the team has been working on for twenty years.

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It confirmed that the experimental jab has proved to be safe and highly effective in preventing the growth of human epidermal growth receptor 2 (HER2) tumour cells.

Above average levels of HER2 proteins in the body are what’s responsible for causing the most complex, aggressive, and rapidly spreading type of breast cancer in women.

For this reason, lead author Dr. Mary (Nora) L. Disis believes the vaccine has the potential to become a pioneering discovery in the field of modern medicine and that there’s a ‘good chance’ it will be used in clinics by 2030.

‘Clinical trials of breast cancer vaccines given alone or with other treatments have increased by about 25% in the last several years, she told Medical News Today.

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‘There are many groups working on ‘next-gen’ vaccines with very effective delivery technologies and adjuvants.’

For a little more context, half of patients suffering from HER2-positive breast cancer generally don’t survive for more than five years after being diagnosed.

Surprisingly, 80% of the participants that received the vaccine stayed alive during the 10-year assessment period and those injected with the 100 mcg dose developed a strong cytotoxic immune response in their bodies (whereby cells capable of killing cancer cells are generated).

Following this immeasurable success, Dr Disis and her team are now conducting phase two trials. If all goes to plan, the hope is that we may be looking at a future with far less cases of fatal breast cancer and, perhaps eventually, every type altogether.