Most of us, no matter who we are, have come in close contact with someone with the Big “C” at some point or another. Perhaps it’s someone close to us, or maybe it’s a co-worker or a neighbor. The reality is, that cancer has become such a common word these days, that it’s difficult to imagine the latest news on the front. Could 2015 be the year they release a breast cancer vaccine?
It may not be as far-fetched as you might think. There are a number of reasons why many people feel it is soon to be released, if not this year, then certainly in the near future. According to Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson when she spoke to Everyday Health, “Results of a small study published in Clinical Cancer Research have shown that a new breast cancer vaccine is safe to give to people. The vaccine targets mammaglobin-A (MAM-A), a breast cancer-related antigen (a toxin or substance that causes an immune response in the body).
Analysis of the results of the study revealed that the women who participated in the study experienced a significant increase in immune cells targeting MAM-A, with no major side effects.
Now that they have concluded that the vaccine is effective and safe to use, it is ready for the next phase in the research process. It will be given to a select few patients who are already in the early stages of cancer. Patients selected for this stage of the study will be given the vaccine before undergoing surgery. This makes it possible for researchers to evaluate how the immune system responds in samples of tumor tissue that will be removed during surgery and analyzed.
The medical profession, while understandably excited about the positive results seen so far, is proceeding with caution as they continue to follow proper protocols before the vaccine will be released to the general public. As one doctor explains to Health Day Magazine, “We can also say with confidence that we were able to generate an immune response in almost all the patients who were vaccinated. And there is preliminary evidence that the vaccine may have an impact on breast cancer progression. But that needs to be studied further to be confirmed.”
The initial findings were released in the Clinical Career Research Journal in December of last year stating that the vaccine searches for a very specific kind of white blood cell in the immune system, tracks it down, and destroys it.
Other Cancer Vaccines
The breast cancer vaccine is not the only vaccine that is being developed to fight off the Big “C.” There are several other vaccines that are also being studied closely and slated to be released as soon as they have been deemed effective and beneficial to the health and well being of the public.
These vaccines target specific infectious agents that either cause or contribute to the development of cancer. They work in much the same way as other traditional vaccines that help the body to fight off infectious diseases. Based on the body’s antigens that are carried by a number of infectious agents that the immune system recognizes as foreign.
To date, the US Food and Drug Administration has already approved two separate vaccines that are designed to protect against two different types of HPV, both of which are the cause of around 70% of all the cases of cervical cancer. The vaccine, Gardasil, manufactured by Merck & Company, has been approved for use in females to help prevent cervical cancer and for use in males to prevent anal cancers and precancerous anal lesions that may be caused by HPV types.
Now there are several vaccines that are presently under clinical trial that will soon add to the list of preventive measures against cancer including trial studies for treatment of bladder cancer, brain tumors, Hodgkin Lymphoma, Kidney Cancer, Leukemia, Lung Cancer, Melanoma, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Pancreatic Cancer, Prostate Cancer, and Solid Tumors.
The future certainly looks promising and if all goes well, it may not be long before we see a major decline in cancer cases invading our lives and wreaking havoc. There is much more in store for us in the near future. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Perhaps the most promising avenue of cancer vaccine research is aimed at better understanding the basic biology underlying how immune system cells and cancer cells interact. New technologies are being created as part of the effort. For example, a new type of imaging technology allows researchers to observe killer T cells and cancer cells interacting inside the body”
Cancer has taken its toll on the majority of the world’s life and it is difficult to believe that maybe one day in the future, it could go the way of other pestilences that have taken the lives of so many like polio and measles did in the past.