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The Science

Scientists are on the cusp of seeing therapeutic breast cancer vaccines approved for use.

We have safe and proven life-saving vaccines that have prevented recurrence in women in early-stage trials. By working together scientists believe they can shave years off the process and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

The time is now.

Why vaccines?

Unlike a virus, which the immune system easily recognizes as an invader, cancer arises from one’s own cells, mutating and proliferating. It has evolved sophisticated ways of evading the immune system.


For this reason, the immune system has trouble distinguishing cancer cells from healthy ones, frequently failing to mount a big enough response and allowing cancer to spread undetected.

In the past 20 years doctors have found certain proteins in some breast cancer could trigger the immune system and even turn T-cells into cancer destroyers. Vaccines mobilize the body’s own defenses.

The time is now.

(1) We know the type of immune response needed to kill cancer, known as a Type I immune response.

(2) We know what parts of breast cancer can be targeted by the immune system.

(3) We have effective vaccine technologies that are safe, inexpensive, easy to adapt to the delivery of multiple antigens, and are more effective than other approaches in generating immunity.

(4) We have these vaccines in early-stage trials and they are working:

Of the 66 women enrolled in a phase I clinical trial, all with advanced stage HER2 positive breast cancer, 70-80% were still alive 10 years after vaccination. Comparatively, the median survival rate for stage 4 HER2 positive breast cancer is five years.

The CVI is now working on a vaccine called STEMVAC, which targets five cancer stem cell proteins. The vaccine could prevent several types of cancer and is currently being tested in a phase II lung-cancer study and a breast cancer study.

Cleveland Clinic recently announced positive results from its Phase 1 clinical trial of a vaccine for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Most patients developed T-cell responses with no negative side effects.

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