CLEVELAND (WJW) – It is one of the most common types of cancer. And close to 300,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year alone.
But what if breast cancer could be wiped out altogether?
That is the goal of a promising new breast cancer vaccine, 10 years in the making; invented and developed by Cleveland Clinic immunologist Dr. Vincent Tuohy.
“We know enough about the immune system now to try these things. We have the ability, but we’re on snail pace. We need to be on warp speed pace,” Tuohy said.
The clinic is partnering with Anixa Biosciences, which has an exclusive worldwide license to the new technology.
This is how it would work. The technology immunizes against a protein that is expressed in the mammary glands of women, during the latter part of gestation and during lactation. That protein, often a precursor to cancer.
Dr. Amit Kumar, President & CEO of Anixa says, “It’s not absolutely clear why, but it starts being made again and we simply have to teach the immune system to destroy the cells making that protein. Because those are cancer cells.”
Pre-clinical trials conducted on animals showed 100% of mice that were not vaccinated and got the placebo, developed breast cancer and died.
The vaccine’s initial focus is triple negative breast cancer, the most lethal … but is expected to eventually prevent other forms of cancer, including ovarian.
“So we envision a 21st century vaccine program here at the Cleveland Clinic that prevents diseases that we confront with age that we think are completely preventable,” Tuohy said. “We think breast cancer, ovarian cancer perhaps prostate cancer are all preventable diseases and that’s why we want to bring our vaccine program up to the 21st century.”
Now, with FDA clearance, human clinical trials for the breast cancer vaccine are expected to begin by Spring 2021.