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New Duke vaccine ‘works beautifully’ against breast cancer

New research out of Duke University could help the thousands of Americans stricken with breast cancer. According to new research conducted at the Duke Cancer Institute, a vaccine developed at the university for breast cancer is part of an “effective” two-drug strategy for fighting against the disease.

This week, research conducted through a clinical trial at Duke was published in Clinical Cancer Research – a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

According to that research, a vaccine for HER2-positive breast cancer that was developed at Duke can be combined with an existing therapeutic to create a “highly effective” option.

“This study supports the development of vaccines targeting tumor driver and resistance genes, which we think is critical in establishing effective anti-tumor immune responses,” Dr. Zachary Hartman, an assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine and study leader, said in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42,000 American women died of breast cancer in 2017, the most recent data available.

The new vaccine targets the HER2 protein, which is the cause of about 20 percent of all breast cancer cases. The study notes that the vaccine can work on its own, though tumors can still be resistant and is better employed as part of the two-drug combination, a kind “one-two-punch” according to the university.

The second drug in question is pembrolizumab, which when used alone has showed “limited benefit for HER2-positive breast cancers.”

The study finds the vaccine primes the immune system and pembrolizumab brings the body’s T-cells in reaction, resulting in both tumor reduction and “long-term tumor-free survival.”

“The basic premise is that the immune checkpoint inhibitors work fantastic if the body has already triggered an immune response, but they don’t work well in the absence of that,” said Dr. H. Kim Lyerly, another Duke professor and author of the study. “Our vaccine initiates the anti-tumor response, and in combination with the checkpoint inhibitors, works beautifully,” Lyerly said.

Moving forward the vaccine combination is currently being tested in a Phase 2 study led by Lyerly and other researchers. The study has received funding support from the Department of Defense, National Cancer Institute, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, as well as other organizations including Merck Sharp-Dohme, the Cancer Research Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Read the full story here

[Originally posted by Bizwomen — Aug 3, 2020]

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