A new vaccine that prevents the development of breast cancer showed positive results in mice, U.S. scientists say.
Experts at the Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic (Ohio), say that a single dose of immunization prevented the development of breast tumors in rodents and also inhibited the growth of existing tumors.
They now plan to conduct clinical trials of the vaccine in humans, according to advance in the journal Nature Medicine.
If successful, will be the first vaccine to prevent the disease in many countries is the leading cause of cancer death among women.
The vaccine is composed of an antigen-a substance that causes the formation of antibodies, called a-lactalbumin.
In the study, carried out in mice genetically engineered to be prone to cancer, half were vaccinated with the antigen and the other half with a vaccine that did not contain the compound.
None of the mice injected with developing the disease antigen, but all the rest it was developed, say the authors.
If it works in humans the same way as it worked in mice will be monumental.Might be able to eliminate breast cancer
Prof. VIncent Tuohy Prof. Vincent Tuohy
So far, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, for its acronym in English) approved cancer preventive vaccines, one against cervical and other against the liver.
However, these immunizations virus attack: the human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical cancer and hepatitis B (HBV) in liver cancer.
The new vaccine, however, strikes the formation of the disease.
The viruses are recognized by the immune system as foreign invaders, but not so with cancer, which is the uncontrolled growth of the cells themselves.
So a vaccine to attack the overgrowth of cells, is really attacking the patient's body itself, destroying also their healthy tissue.
La The key to the new immunization, Professor Tuohy explains, is "finding a target within the tumor is typically not in a healthy person."
In the case of breast cancer, scientists detected the antigen a-lactalbumin, a protein found in most breast tumors but not in healthy women, except when they nurse.
No damage to healthy tissue
In this way, scientists say, the vaccine can prepare a woman's immune system to attack the a-lactalbumin, avoiding the formation of the tumor without harming healthy tissue breast.
The vaccine antigen was able to prevent the development of tumors in mice.
Scientists plan to vaccinate women older than 40 years, the age at which begins to increase the risk of the disease and decrease the chance of pregnancy.
And it could be offered to younger women with increased risk of developing the condition.
Although experts say it will have to wait some years before the vaccine becomes available in the clinic, progress, they say, could have major implications for the prevention of breast cancer.
" "This study is in its early stages and hope to see the results of large clinical trials to see if this vaccine is safe and effective in humans," says Dr. Palframa Caitlin, the British charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year worldwide and about 500,000 die from the condition.
Although disease rates have declined gradually since the mid-90s in developed countries, thanks to early detection and improved treatments, in nations with low and middle income the number of cases continues to rise.