A vaccine to treat breast cancer using a patient’s own cells has been developed by scientists, with promising results.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at 27 patients suffering from a ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common non-invasive form of the disease.
Scientists isolated specialised white cells using techniques similar to blood donation. The cells were then manipulated in the lab to allow the immune system to recognise the cancerous cells as foreign, and attack them.
Each patient received 4 weekly injections of their personalised vaccine, and had surgery 2 weeks later to remove any remaining disease. Pre-vaccination samples were then compared to post-vaccination samples.
The results, published in the Journal of Immunotherapy, show that 5 patients had no disease visible, and their immune system had completely wiped out the tumour.
Of the remaining patients, damaging proteins had been eliminated in 11, and reduced by more than 20 per cent in another two.
4 years on, 85 per cent of the women were still showing protection.
The vaccine only had low-grade side effects. Study leader Dr Brian Czerniecki said: "We are continuing to see this pattern in our second, ongoing trial."
Dr Czerniecki said: "I think these data more than prove that vaccination works in situations where the target is right."
Now, the team is enrolling patients in a larger study and planning another to test the vaccine on women with early invasive breast cancer.
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