Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First European trial for new breast cancer vaccine

20.03.2002


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 Enabling technology in cell-based therapies: Scale-up, scale-out or program in-place
23.07.2018 | SLAS (Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening)

nachricht FAU researchers identify Parkinson's disease as a possible autoimmune disease
23.07.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Detecting damage in non-magnetic steel with the help of magnetism

23.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Researchers move closer to completely optical artificial neural network

23.07.2018 | Information Technology

Enabling technology in cell-based therapies: Scale-up, scale-out or program in-place

23.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>