Breast cancer vaccine passes first human trial

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By Alfred Koroma

The result of Phase 1 human trial, testing an experimental breast cancer vaccine has been found to be successful, a new paper in the journal JAMA Oncology reports earlier this month.

Phase 2 trial is ongoing, testing the efficacy of the vaccine in a larger group of HER2 cancer patients.  

According to NEW ATLAS, about 30% of breast cancers involve the overproduction of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), breast cancers more aggressive than the other types. They grow faster and are more likely to reoccur.

The vaccine on trial is called Plasmid DNA vaccine. Its trial started 20 years ago, testing 66 patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer. The researchers tested three different dose levels of the vaccine were tested, with a focus to evaluate the safety of the vaccine.

NEW ATLAS  report that because HER2 proteins can be found on other cell types in the body, the researchers planned a 10-year follow-up for each participant to make sure there were no lingering problems of immune activity against healthy tissue.

The report says DNA Vaccine delivers blueprints for the production of certain proteins into the nucleus of a cell. The said protein is then produced by the cell which triggers an immune response. The vaccine being tested prompts cells to produce a specific fragment of the HER2 protein.

“The results showed that the vaccine was very safe. In fact, the most common side effects that we saw in about half the patients were very similar to what you see with COVID vaccines: redness and swelling at the injection site and maybe some fever, chills and flu-like symptoms,” the  lead author of the new study Mary Disis, is quoted by NEW ATLAS.

According to report, the trial was not geared to evaluate how effective the experimental vaccine is at treating breast cancer. But the ATLAS said  Disis did point out promising early signs of efficacy, with 80% of the treated trial participants surviving the full 10-year follow-up, saying only around 50% of patients with advanced HER2 breast cancer would generally be expected to survive more than five years, which shows is likely the vaccine is working.

“If the results of the new randomized-controlled Phase 2 trial of the vaccine are positive, it will be a strong signal for us to rapidly move forward to a definitive phase III trial,” Disis added. “I have high hopes that we’re close to having a vaccine that can effectively treat patients with breast cancer.”

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