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Jab slows breast cancer development

02 December 2014 10:22

Scientists have high hopes for the experimental breast cancer vaccine

Scientists have high hopes for the experimental breast cancer vaccine

An experimental vaccine described as being "very encouraging" for future treatment could be the answer to slowing the progression of breast cancer.

The jab targets a protein found almost exclusively in breast tissue and in 80% of breast cancers - called mammaglobin-A.

How the study worked

A study of 14 women with advanced breast cancer, led by Professor William Gillanders from Washington University School of Medicine, found half of those who received the vaccine showed no sign of tumour growth one year after treatment.

The jab also had a positive biological effect in those with immune systems weakened by the disease and extended periods of chemotherapy treatment, prompting modestly longer progression-free survival.

People who have survived breast cancer can arrange breast cancer travel insurance when taking holidays or travelling to visit relatives.

Prof Gillanders describes the findings as "very encouraging" for the future of breast cancer treatment.

He hopes the vaccine means a larger number of patients can be treated with potentially fewer side effects.

In light of the positive research, plans are now in the pipeline for the scientists to follow up the small pilot trial with a larger study of newly diagnosed patients who should have stronger immune systems.

Prof Gillanders adds that the ability to target mammaglobin-A is particularly exciting because it is expressed broadly in up to four-fifths of breast cancers, as tumours produce it at abnormally high levels.

What Breakthrough Breast Cancer says

The results were described as "interesting" by the breast cancer charity.

Sally Greenbrook of Breakthrough said the research could lead to a vaccine to be used as part of prevention treatment. But she highlighted the small scale of the current trial, and underlined the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.