“This vaccine strategy has the potential to be applied to other tumor types,” said Vincent K. Tuohy, PhD, the Mort and Iris November Distinguished Chair in Innovative Breast Cancer Research at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, and primary inventor of the vaccine.
We are living in a time when vaccines, which have proven themselves to be health care’s best defense against various illnesses, are under more intense public scrutiny than ever before.
Despite some public divide over vaccines, there is one that it seems everyone should be able to support: a novel vaccine aimed at preventing triple-negative breast cancer.
Developed at Cleveland Clinic, this vaccine works by specifically targeting a breast lactation protein, α-lactalbumin, which is not found post lactation in normal, aging tissues but has been found in most triple-negative breast cancers.
Activating the immune system against this protein provides the body with preemptive immunity against breast tumors that express α-lactalbumin, as well as preventing any emerging tumors from growing.
“This vaccine strategy has the potential to be applied to other tumor types,” said Vincent K. Tuohy, PhD, the Mort and Iris November Distinguished Chair in Innovative Breast Cancer Research at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, and primary inventor of the vaccine.1
“Our translational research program focuses on developing vaccines that prevent diseases we confront with age, like breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. If successful, these vaccines have the potential to transform the way we control adult-onset cancers and enhance life expectancy in a manner [similar to] the impact that the childhood vaccination program has had.”
In December 2020, the investigational new drug application for the vaccine was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, allowing the hospital and Anixa Biosciences, Inc, to commence a phase 1 study.2
The goal of the trial is to determine the maximum tolerated dose of the vaccine in patients with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer, as well as characterize and optimize the body’s immune response.1 Investigators estimate that the study will be completed by September 2022.
“Long term, we are hoping that this can be a true preventive vaccine that would be administered to healthy women to prevent them from developing triple-negative breast cancer, the form of breast cancer for which we have the least effective treatments,” said G. Thomas Budd, MD, of the Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic, and principal investigator of the study.1
The news of this potential vaccine is both uplifting and promising, especially to those with or who know someone with triple-negative breast cancer.
The cancer treatment landscape has seen massive changes throughout the years, with new data and therapies emerging daily, but this vaccine could change the way we look at medicine and breast cancer forever. And that thought alone can bring anyone together to celebrate.