A breast cancer vaccine is in phase one trials at Cleveland Clinic

This is amazing news. Cleveland Clinic has entered phase one of trials for a potential vaccine for breast cancer. And, if this proves effective, they’re looking at how they can approach vaccines for ovarian and endometrial cancers as well. The breast cancer the vaccine is targeting is triple negative breast cancer. It is one of the deadliest as it doesn’t respond to hormonal treatment. I hate to sound like a giddy schoolgirl over such profound news, but with the disregard that women’s health has been shown of late, this is soul-filling.

Researchers at Cleveland Clinic announced on Tuesday that they have started a phase 1 vaccine clinical trial in the fight against one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer: triple negative breast cancer.

According to the CDC, triple-negative breast cancer doesn’t have any of the receptors that are usually found in the more common types of breast cancer. This form of cancer doesn’t respond to hormonal therapy, thus giving patients fewer options for treatment.

“We are hopeful that this research will lead to more advanced trials to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine against this highly aggressive type of breast cancer,” G. Thomas Budd, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute, said in a press release.

Researchers said the intent of the vaccine is to counteract the cancer, though they said it will likely be decades before it is available to the public.

For the trial, the vaccine will be administered to around 18-24 people, all given different dosages to test its efficacy. Those chosen for the trial are patients who have been treated for and overcome early-stage triple-negative breast cancer within the past three years, but who are likely to experience recurrence.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, about 10-20% of breast cancers are triple-negative, but because it is more difficult to treat and more likely to recur, it has a higher death rate than those with other types of breast cancer. It is also more prevalent in the African American community and in women with mutations in BRCA1 genes.

“This vaccine strategy has the potential to be applied to other tumor types,” said Dr. Vincent Tuohy, Ph.D., the primary inventor of the vaccine and staff immunologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.

“Our translational research program focuses on developing vaccines that prevent diseases we confront with age, like breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers. If successful, these vaccines have the potential to transform the way we control adult-onset cancers and enhance life expectancy in a manner similar to the impact that the childhood vaccination program has had.”

Researchers anticipate the study will be completed by Sept. 2022.

[From People]

This Cleveland Clinic video explains more about how the vaccine works. They’re looking at the link between breastfeeding and triple negative breast cancer.

Breast cancer is not prevalent in my family (knock wood). But I know it has touched many of the lives of our readers. As the excerpt stated, this particular type makes up about 10-20% of the breast cancer cases. But because of its resistance to treatment, it’s much deadlier. So finding a way to prevent it before it’s a problem is a game changer. And to think that other women’s cancers may be close behind. Finally, right? Just a side note about where this is being done. I’ve talked to three people who have flown to Cleveland for various treatment at Cleveland Clinic in the last few months. And when I mentioned it to a doctor, they started peppering me questions about what those who’d been there said, in almost a stanning way. At least one of the people I talked to is living pain free for the first time in 10 years. This is exciting.


Photo credit: Instagram and CDC on Unsplash

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26 Responses to “A breast cancer vaccine is in phase one trials at Cleveland Clinic”

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  1. Katherine says:

    Yes, please! And also – why limit to only post lactating? If the risk is lower, it’s not zero, is it? I really don’t like it when there’s a legit vaccine that’s been around for a while and widely available and I’m paying money to get the shot and the doctor is like “but you are not in the recommended group, you are unlikely to get it”, yeah, but am I 100% guaranteed I won’t get it?? No. Please, gimme all the vaccines (with proper intervals and with right medical protocols).

    • Eurydice says:

      They are not “limiting to post-lactating women.” They are targeting triple negative breast cancer, which does not respond well to existing therapies. The vaccine targets a lactation protein that is not usually found in post-lactating women. Not sure what you mean with all the rest about a legit vaccine – this one is just beginning to be tested.

      • Katherine says:

        I’ve been told not to do shingles because I’m too young and not to do meningitis because I don’t live in a dorm, and not to do yellow fever because I have no immediate plans to travel to respective regions, and not to do hib because I’m an adult and won’t have it bad if I get it (yeah, thanks, cause I want to be slightly sick and only want vaccines for the bad illnesses /s). Oh, and not to do the hpv one because I’m not a virgin. I’m pretty sure none of these would hurt and if I do get in a situation where I could benefit from those vaccinations, I’d prefer to have them already instead of running around for the shot and then waiting for immunity. As for this specific vaccine, why not vaccinate all women, many will likely become post lactating at some point, no? Unless it simply doesn’t work if you don’t have that protein.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Katherine, truly, there’s no need for a yellow fever vaccine unless you’re traveling to a place where it is prevalent. Just think about it for a bit. I don’t know where you live, but have you read of any yellow fever outbreaks in the vicinity? Do you live in a tropical or equatorial zone? Plan to travel to one soon? I’ve gotten the yellow fever vaccination twice for two such trips, but certainly wouldn’t have otherwise. There hasn’t been a yellow fever outbreak in the US for over a hundred years now. Here’s an article from NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/08/28/491471697/yellow-fever-timeline-the-history-of-a-long-misunderstood-disease
        As for shingles, have you had chickenpox? Or were you vaccinated as a kid? Shingles is the chickenpox virus that lies in wait in your nervous system and may come out of hiding to make its presence known later in your life. I had chickenpox as a kid, had shingles in my 30s. Not fun, but as my doctor & eye doctors both pointed out, it’s very very unusual for someone young to get shingles. Not impossible, but not likely. Trust your medical professionals.

      • Katherine says:

        @BeanieBean waaait, chickenpox can reactivate as shingles?? Yes, I had chickenpox as a kid! Omg, thanks for telling me.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      @Katherine: Please understand this is a phase 1 study which means a lot less in known about the investigational product and its affect on humans than in laster phase trials so eligibility criteria tends to be much tighter than in later phase trials

    • Beta says:

      Looking at it briefly, it’s not a vaccine in the traditional sense, more like an immunomodulator. Looks like it’s targeting post lactating women as this destroys a protein essential for breastfeeding.

      • BeanieBean says:

        I was going to say, a vaccine to protect against a cancer sounded intriguing & I couldn’t quite figure how it would work.

    • Beta says:

      Katherine, you are coming from a place that doesn’t seem to grasp evidence-based medicine. The reason why all those vaccines are not recommended to you are because they have no been studied in certain populations yet and there’s no data of the efficacy of these vaccines.

    • manda says:

      they dont recommend shingles vax until you are 50, and therefore insurance won’t cover it until you are 50 (unless maybe you have a compromised immune system). You should be able to get it now if you want, just ask your doctor and be prepared to pay like $400. There’s also a pneumonia vax, but again, you have to be older to qualify to get it

  2. Kaz says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around and women who haven’t breastfed are at higher risk for breast cancer.

    From your linked article:
    “Breastfeeding has been one possible exception in the search for risk factors for this poor-prognosis disease subtype. Several studies have now documented a 25% to 50% lower risk of triple-negative breast cancer in parous women who have breastfed for at least four to six months relative to parous women who have never breastfed”

  3. MsIam says:

    The article actually says women who HAVE breastfed have a significantly lowered risk of getting this type of breast cancer. This vaccine news is exciting! I wonder what the anti-vaxxers will say about this, should we just let our immune systems do their job?

  4. Cee says:

    Greatest news since the covid vaccine!!!!

    Also – breast cancer is usually so invasive it is easier for it to metastasise so even if beaten, women usually die from other forms of cancer. Early detection is key but we also need SCIENCE!

    • BeanieBean says:

      If it’s metastasized to somewhere else–usually an organ, and kills you, you’ve still died of breast cancer. Happened to my mom.

  5. FHMom says:

    Please, yes. I’m not big on prayers, but this deserves some.

  6. WithTheAmerican says:

    This news is amazing.

  7. aggie says:

    I am so hoping for a good outcome from these trials. My mom is in remission from triple-negative breast cancer (BRCA positive, full prophylactic mastectomy after initial lumpectomy, chemo, radiation and 10 years remission) and it was a terrible experience even with the best possible outcome.

  8. BML says:

    I was diagnosed with TNBC during the pandemic and just completed treatment about a month ago (a total of 3 rounds– 18 cycles– of chemo, radiation, DMX, etc). I’m currently trying to contact the Clinic about enrolling in this trial. I was stage 3 and therefore have a very high risk of recurrence. This is so exciting and hopeful. There is far too much “wait and hope” that comes with completing TNBC treatment.

    • Jules says:

      Oh wow, best wishes to you. This is the first I’m hearing of the vaccine, very exciting. xo

    • idk says:

      My best friend had TNBC a few years ago (she’s three years out now and doing well). I was her primary caretaker so I was there for the whole thing, treatment was extremely hard on her and I can’t even imagine doing it during the pandemic. I hope you have a lot of support and also that you can get into the trial! Very very best to you.

  9. Nanea says:

    This is great news, especially as most drugs are still being developed and trials are run where women and kids are an afterthought. Specially adjusted dosages for women/kids are guesswork, and side-effects are often not even factored in.

    And, as Hecate stated, Cleveland Clinic has a (mostly) stellar international reputation, if it were not for that center of integrated quackery run by a certain Mark Hyman.

  10. daisyfly says:

    This is amazing news, especially for women of color because the risk of them developing it greater.

    However, your text in the link to the Oxford article has the wrong info. “Women who have not breastfed are less likely to get triple negative breast cancer.”

    Per the article:

    “Breastfeeding has been one possible exception in the search for risk factors for this poor-prognosis disease subtype. Several studies have now documented a 25% to 50% lower risk of triple-negative breast cancer in parous women who have breastfed for at least four to six months relative to parous women who have never breastfed (5–9). “

  11. sassafras says:

    I’ve been saying this for 18 months, we are heading into a golden age of medical advancements and technology. The research into the C19 vaccines and the weird disease itself has opened up possible treatments for cancer, lupus, MS, and more. I’m so excited.

    But I have to wonder, what will my anti-vax, BRCA positive relative do if they offer her this?

  12. Athena says:

    Let’s hope the insurance companies are on board and will pay for their insured to get the vaccine which I’m sure will be costly.

  13. Ann says:

    This and the Keanu headline made my year. Thank you.