Vaccines: A New Frontier in Cancer Research

July 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm 4 comments

vaccine cartoonThe takeaway from this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, held in Chicago from May 31 to June 3, was that cancer vaccines and other types of immunotherapy drugs are one of the more promising new directions in cancer treatment.

Immunotherapies are cancer treatments that are designed to get the immune system to treat cancer cells as they would bacteria or a virus—a foreign invader that should be attacked. (Because cancer cells start off as normal cells, the immune system basically ignores them.) The American Cancer Society provides a good overview of immunotherapies and how they work here.

Cancer treatment vaccines are one type of immunotherapy. You can see a list of the breast cancer vaccine trials that are now underway in our Vaccines and Immunotherapy QuickView.

To learn more about breast cancer vaccine trials, spoke with Elizabeth Mittendorf, a surgical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston about her phase III international NeuVax vaccine trial(This is the only breast cancer vaccine currently being studied in a phase III trial.) We also spoke to Diane Altenburg, a breast cancer survivor who took part in the phase II trial of NeuVax.  You can read these interviews here:  Dr. Elizabeth Mittendorf     Diane Altenburg

Entry filed under: Vaccines.

Q & A with Elizabeth Mittendorf: A Vaccine to Prevent Recurrence From the Director

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary Quartarone  |  July 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Dr. Mittendorf,
    I have triple negative breast cancer that metastacized to bones, lung and liver 4 years after my initial diagnosis and treatment. I’m currently on Gemcitabine/Cisplatin. If I stop my current treatment, would I be eligible for your vaccine trials?
    thank you
    Mary Quartarone

  • 2. breastcancertrials  |  July 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Mary: Thank you for your question. Dr. Mittendorf’s peptide vaccine is for reducing the risk of recurrence in Stage I-IIIA breast cancer. Our next newsletter will specifically discuss vaccines for metastatic breast cancer patients. In the meantime, you can check our Vaccine QuickView which lists several research studies for metastatic patients:
    -BCT Team

  • 3. Vera  |  July 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    ” (Because cancer cells start off as normal cells, the immune system basically ignores them.) ”

    Are you kidding me? That is so completely and utterly wrong. The immune system has Natural Killer cells that get rid of abnormal, cancerous cells in the body.

    • 4. breastcancertrials  |  July 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Our explanation is based on how the American Cancer Society explains the immune response and cancer: As they note: “the immune system is much better at recognizing and attacking germs than cancer cells. Germs are very different from normal human cells and are often easily seen as foreign, but cancer cells and normal cells have fewer clear differences. Because of this the immune system may not always recognize cancer cells as foreign.” We’d be interested in your thoughts.


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