New Zealand vaccine research shows promise for effective therapeutic treatment of high-risk breast cancer

In collaboration with the Ferrier Research Institute in Lower Hutt, the Malaghan Institute has been working on developing stimulant molecules that act as ‘vaccine adjuvants’. An adjuvant works together with a vaccine that targets specific breast cancer antigens to stimulate the immune system’s natural response to cancer, helping it to kill affected cells, not just at the main tumor site, but in other parts of the body, which possibly prevents further spread.

In collaboration with the Ferrier Research Institute in Lower Hutt, the Malaghan Institute has been working on developing stimulant molecules that act as ‘vaccine adjuvants’. An adjuvant works together with a vaccine that targets specific breast cancer antigens to stimulate the immune system’s natural response to cancer, helping it to kill affected cells, not just at the main tumor site, but elsewhere in the body. This can possibly prevent further spread, or metastasis, of breast cancer in the body, which is the leading cause of death in patients.

In a statement Tuesday, the authors said their research offers optimism for the future development of an effective therapeutic vaccine against high-risk breast cancer.

“We investigated our vaccines in models of HER2-positive breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer,” said Dr. Olivia Burn, a postdoctoral fellow at the Malaghan Institute.

“We are particularly interested in triple negative breast cancer because it can present as a more aggressive type of breast cancer and currently has very limited treatment options.

“First, we combined segments of the HER2 protein with our immunostimulatory compound, a glycolipid that activates a particular population of immune cells, to enhance the immune response against HER2. A single dose of this treatment slowed tumor growth and prevented it from growing in the lung.

See also  'I get what I want'

“Then, in a triple-negative breast cancer model, we used a different vaccine that targeted parts of the NY-ESO-1 protein, which is often overexpressed in these cancers, particularly when it has spread to other organs, and found equally encouraging results. antitumor results.”

Although breast cancer is usually very treatable, the main cause of death is not the initial tumor itself, but its spread to other parts of the body. Preventing this spread, or metastasis, is key to reducing the number of people who die from this disease, Dr. Burn said.

“Metastatic cancers usually originate from a single source, and the resulting tumors are often copies of the ‘parent’ tumor and display the same physical markers on their surface. Because of this similarity, there is good potential to develop a vaccine.” against breast cancer that prevents the tumor from spreading to other parts of the body.

Research indicates that this unique glycolipid vaccine platform can be used to generate strong immune responses against clinically relevant breast cancer markers, added Dr. Burn.

“Future steps could include advancing the design of this vaccine, possibly using RNA technology, where the entire protein for HER2 and NY-ESO-1 could be used as a vaccine target, providing greater population coverage. RNA technology could also make it easier to investigate other relevant breast cancer markers and help us assess whether metastasis to other organs, such as the liver, can be prevented.”

According to the Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand, breast cancer occurs when abnormal breast cells grow out of control, usually forming a tumor. It is the most common cancer for Kiwi women and the third most common cancer overall.

See also  What is the least likely increase in your Social Security? | personal finance

About 70 to 75 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 80 percent of women who die from it, are age 50 or older. Some women are at increased risk of developing breast cancer if there is a family history of the disease: however, most women who develop breast cancer have no relatives with the disease.

Although it is less common, young women can also get breast cancer. Six per cent of breast cancer in New Zealand occurs before the age of 40. Although rare, men get breast cancer too: about 25 men in New Zealand are diagnosed each year.

In the early stages of breast cancer, when the tumor is small, there is usually no pain and no obvious signs and symptoms. It may not be easy to feel a lump, so screening mammography is the best method of detection. However, as the cancer grows, noticeable changes in the breast may appear, and these should be checked by your doctor.

The Foundation urges women to be alert for new lumps or thickened tissue; changes in the nipple, shape or size of the breasts; and unusual pain that does not go away.