A Vaccine for Breast Cancer is on the Way

…they’re not going to say anything unless they’ve got some really good evidence. — Dr Wefald

Dr. Franklin Wefald reacted to this news from the Mayo Clinic:

Could a vaccine one day be given to prevent breast cancer? That’s what a group of Mayo Clinic doctors and researchers are working to find out.

“If we’re able to have the immune system trained to recognize abnormal cells, or cancerous (or) precancerous cells, then maybe the immune system can eliminate them before they even develop,” explains Dr. Amy Degnim, a Mayo Clinic surgeon.

Dr. Degnim is on the team that’s evaluating a vaccine against the HER2 protein, which is found in the majority of women with a noninvasive breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS.

Dr. Frank Wefald:

Remember we talked about the monoclonal antibody for plaque psoriasis.  So, what they are doing is they are developing a method where they give you a vaccine and it jazzes up your immune system to specifically fight breast cancer.  It’s in the very early stage. 

You know, I don’t like studies that are in the very early stage that come out and say “if you eat pistachios on Thursday there is a less risk for you to have a stroke.  But this is actually very interesting because they’ve got models in animals where they have tested it and it works and when you have somebody at the Mayo Clinic doing this, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic or Harvard I think that they’re not going to say anything unless they’ve got some really good evidence. 

So, these monoclonal antibodies that are treating plaque psoriasis, the studies have been in the works for a long time and I have believed in them because the research is there.  So it’s going to be about 8 years before they think they’re going to have this on the market and all I can say is that I hope it works because it will be another magical thing, it’s not magic it’s science, but it seems magical that’s going to do so much good. 

Dave Alexander: Assuming no ill effects from the vaccine do you think that typically women are just going to get this shot?

Dr. Frank Wefald: Well I think so.  Now, one thing, this thing has only been shown to work in a model for what we call triple negative breast cancer.  That’s where you don’t have three receptors that make the breast cancer a certain type.  And so triple negative is a certain type of breast cancer but these models that are there, the animal models that they’re doing, it’s working very amazingly.  So, it also may work for ovarian cancer which at this point in time is much more difficult to treat than even breast cancer is. 

So, remember your tax dollars, some of it’s going to the National Institutes of Health and they’re giving out grants. Not all of the grant money sponsors this research, but just remember if you are paying your taxes, you’re supporting this and you’re part of the solution to these really bad health problems.

Find more medical news and analysis at WPTF Podcasts and Episode 143 of Heart Health Radio. We’re on live at 680-WPTF on Saturdays at noon.

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