Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine
This past year, we have seen firsthand the life-altering effects that vaccines can provide. The Covid Vaccine offered a sense of relief, hope, health, and normalcy to people all over the world. Given all the positive impacts that vaccines provide, it seems only natural to explore the vaccine potential in other diseases, particularly breast cancer. In December of 2020, the Cleveland Clinic and Anixa Biosciences received the news that their ground-breaking triple-negative breast cancer vaccine had received the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to begin clinical trial testing in humans. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) makes up about 10% of all breast cancers and usually has a poorer prognosis than other types due to its aggressive nature. While researchers have spent years working on a breast cancer vaccine, the Cleveland Clinic vaccine marks the first vaccine to receive FDA approval and testing could begin in humans as early as this year.
How the Vaccine Works
The vaccine works by immunizing patients against the alpha-lactalbumin protein, which is a protein that is expressed in a woman’s mammary glands when they develop breast cancer. Once vaccinated, the immune system is trained to attack and destroy the cells that produce the alpha-lactalbumin protein. The goal is for the immune system to recognize the cells before they can reproduce and eventually become a tumor. Pre-clinical trials of the vaccine conducted on animals have been promising, with one study on female mice showing that every single one that didn’t receive the vaccine eventually developed breast cancer and died.
The Future of Breast Cancer Vaccines
The Cleveland Clinic hopes that if their vaccine proves safe and effective, there is potential not only to effectively inhibit the emergence of TNBC but also to apply the vaccine to other forms of breast cancer. While the trials are still in their beginning phase, and there is no set timeline for when the vaccine could become widely available, it is a monumental step towards a future without breast cancer.
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