Breast Cancer Vaccines Look Promising

  • A study that uses immunostimulatory peptides as a vaccine looked at the best way to deliver them. Dr. Davorka Messmer, an assistant project scientist at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California San Diego, and her team tested a vaccine using nanoparticles loaded with the HER2 peptide that carry an immune system-stimulating peptide, called Hp91, on the outside or the inside. "We found it more potent if the immunostimulatory peptide was put on the surface of the nanoparticle," she said. The study was conducted in animals.
  • While breast cancer vaccines have been studied for at least 30 years, they have yet to make a real difference in the lives of patients, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. That's not to say they won't someday, he added.

    "When you look at the theory, it makes sense," he said. "The bottom line is, we are getting there, but [we're] not there yet."

    Many questions remain, he said, such as "why some patients have immune responses, and others don't." It is likely, he said, that some of the vaccines will be specific to one cancer, and others may work on more than one type of cancer.

    More information

    To learn more about breast cancer vaccines, visit the breastcancer.org.

    SOURCES: Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Susan Domchek, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Lupe Salazar, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, University of Washington, Seattle; Davorka Messmer, Ph.D., assistant project scientist, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego; June 25-28, 2008, presentations, Era of Hope meeting, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Baltimore

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