Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


First European trial for new breast cancer vaccine


European clinical trials are under way in Denmark and the UK testing a new breast cancer vaccine targeted against the HER-2 growth factor.

HER-2 is overexpressed in about a quarter of all breast cancers and has become a key target for new treatments, such as the monoclonal antibody therapy Herceptin.

But, the development of a vaccine by Danish pharmaceutical company Pharmexa represents an entirely novel treatment paradigm, according to Pharmexa’s manager of preclinical development and immunopharmacology, Dr Dana Leach.

He told a news briefing at the 3rd European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona: "The objective of our vaccine is to stimulate the patient’s own immune system and to see whether we can induce it to launch specific killer cells as well as producing HER-2 specific antibodies. This is a phase I/II trial. Our first objective is to test the safety of the vaccine, but we also want to make a preliminary evaluation of the vaccine’s ability to raise an immune response. There are 27 patients with advanced breast cancer in the trial, which should be completed late this year."

HER-2 is a protein that is overexpressed in many tumours. But, because it is also expressed at low levels in some normal tissues, the immune system does not recognise it as foreign and the immune cells, especially helper T cells that initiate the immune response, are simply not around to launch an attack. So, the vaccine – AutoVac – has been designed to help kick-start the immune response by giving the T cells a foreign agent to recognise and react against. The aim is that the immune system then recognises the overexpressed HER-2 in the cancer cells and attacks them, but ignores the normal tissue because that contains only low levels.

Dr Leach said that animal tests had shown that the vaccine produced a specific immune response and there had been no adverse side effects.

The vaccine consists of two small inactive fragments derived from tetanus toxin – the bacterium that causes lockjaw. The researchers included DNA encoding the fragments, into DNA that they had made in the laboratory to code for a portion of the HER-2 molecule. The DNA vaccine is injected and taken up by the cells, which then manufacture the protein, including the inserted tetanus fragments that ‘wake up’ the immune system and help it to respond to HER-2.

Dr Leach said the company was also preparing to start clinical trials in a variation of this approach. Instead of a DNA vaccine that prompts the body’s cells to make the necessary protein, the AutoVac protein will be made beforehand in the laboratory and injected directly as a vaccine into the patient.

"Each approach has potential advantages – DNA is generally believed to be a good way to get a response from cytotoxic T cells, while protein is better at inducing antibody responses," he said. "We have to look at tackling cancer from as many different approaches as possible because different tumours react in different ways. We know that already from the variable responses to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, endocrine treatment and other immunotherapies. But, as we get better at diagnosis and understanding the genetic make-up of tumours it should become possible to make better predictions about which treatment is best for which patient and to combine treatments that work synergistically to boost effectiveness."

Dr Leach said that the success of the drug Herceptin as a treatment had shown that HER-2 was a good target. "Although it is early days yet, any time that you can successfully take a new cancer vaccine into the clinic it is an important and exciting event."

Margaret Willson | alphagalileo

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>