(KTVU) – Two problems have long been addressed in the treatment of breast cancer: the elimination of cancer cells from the tumor and the prevention of the return of the disease.
Experts say the key could be to stimulate and strengthen the body's immune system to accomplish both tasks.
Mayo Clinic researchers in Florida announced they are working on a new cancer vaccine to help the body return from "triple negative breast cancer," an aggressive form of breast cancer that spreads across the chest and rather comes back after the treatment.
The vaccine is to be used in combination with Trastuzumab, an immunogen-stimulating drug given to women after having surgery to remove the cancerous tumor.
Doctors say that the combination approach activates and stimulates two types of immune cells: B cells and T cells
"The vaccine offers a prevention strategy to avert cancer reform," Dr. Keith Knutson, a Mayo Clinic immunologist, is working on the study. "The body's T-cells and B-cells synergize with each other for a strong, lasting immune response."
Mayo Clinic researchers recently received a $ 1
So far, doctors say early results show that the vaccine promotes a "measurable immune response" with few negative side effects
Future research conducted at the Mayo Clinic and in collaboration with other medical centers will help determine how long the immunity lasts and whether booster shots are needed to help the immune system identify cancer cells. The study will also help identify specific tumor "subtypes" that best respond to vaccine treatments.
"The standard approaches to treating cancer address the existing disease," Knutson said. "Our goal is to develop a strategy to treat recurrences, we have good medicines like trastuzumab that can disrupt the recurrence of (this type of) breast cancer, and we hope that a vaccine combines several aspects of the body's immune system System will build on these successes. "
Mayo Clinic has several other breast cancer vaccines in clinical trials, along with over 300 clinical trials for other cancers.