Breast cancer: a promising new vaccine


Breast cancer, according to the AIRC, is today the most frequently diagnosed neoplasm. Its danger lies in the late diagnosis , therefore it becomes potentially serious if it is not identified and treated in time. This tumor is due to the uncontrolled multiplication of some cells of the mammary gland which transform into malignant cells, these acquire the ability to detach from the tissue that generated them to invade the surrounding ones and, over time, even more distant organs. In theory, all cells in the breast can give rise to cancer, but in most cases cancer originates from glandular cells (from lobules) or from those that form the walls of the ducts. As the AIRC website reports, if theincidence  (number of new cases) is growing slightly especially in younger women,  mortality  is decreasing (a reduction of 6 percent in 2020 compared to 2015), although this disease remains the leading cause of death from cancer in women .

Standard protocol for care

The choice of the therapeutic path depends on several factors, including the patient’s conditions, the molecular and diffusion characteristics of the disease and much more. In general, most women with breast cancer undergo  surgery to remove the diseased tissue. If possible,  conservative surgery is used , i.e. surgical interventions that aim to “save” the breast, removing only the part where the  lesion is located (quadrantectomy). Sometimes it is necessary to remove more than one quadrant of the breast: in this case we speak of partial  or  total  mastectomy depending on the amount of tissue taken during the operation. Radiotherapy  _ adjuvant (carried out after surgery) is used to protect the remaining mammary gland both from the risk of local recurrence and from the appearance of a new neoplasm. Many  patients are offered therapy with  anti-cancer drugs , such as  chemotherapy , hormonal therapies or treatments with drugs that target specific molecular targets. Chemotherapy  is useful  , but not always necessary, and is prescribed after a personalized assessment of the characteristics of each case.

New vaccine, new treatment

An experimental study of over 20 years, the one that involved testing the vaccine designed to target the neoplastic cells of breast cancer. The research group, promoter of the innovative therapy, has been working for years on vaccines capable of instructing the immune system to target HER2-positive tumor cells. This type of vaccine was not designed for the prevention and/or to prevent the appearance of tumors, but for a therapeutic function. Experimental vaccines, therefore, are meant to be given to patients after diagnosis to aid the immune system in destroying certain cancer cells. AMA Oncology reports the study results.

The phase 1 study began 20 years ago, examining 66 patients of both sexes with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer and an average age of 51 years (range 34-77 years). 3 different dose levels were tested with the main objective of evaluating the safety of the vaccine. The results show that the vaccine is very safe, the most common side effects are very similar to those of the Covid-19 vaccine, namely: redness and swelling on the injection area, fever and flu symptoms. The new therapy has therefore passed phase 1 (tests on humans) and is moving forward towards phase 2 to test its effectiveness.This trial started recently and has a 2-year follow-up period. If the results of the new study are positive, it will allow for a rapid transition to a definitive phase 3 study. It is important to underline the therapeutic avant-garde of this vaccine: it potentially represents an effective cure which would have as a side effect something much lighter than surgery and/or chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions.


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