The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio is vaccinating mice against breast cancer — and they are seeing some very promising results. This means that there may be a breast cancer vaccine in the foreseeable future; this is too wonderful to even hope for.
The scientists working on the vaccine were able to prevent tumors from growing, but were also able to reduce the size of already growing tumors. They were able to target a protein found in most breast cancers and use it in the vaccine. Dr. Vincent Tuohy, an immunologist and the lead scientist, suggests that human studies could begin as early as next year. It will be a long process to work through FDA requirements and raise the funding for further studies in humans, but this is so promising.
Dr. Tuohy was inspired by the vaccines that protect children against the insidious diseases like polio, measles, and chickenpox that their parents and grandparents contracted and often died from. In recent years, there has been real success in the vaccination of adolescent girls against HPV infection, the most common cause of cervical cancer. It makes sense — instead of finding treatments to battle the disease once it develops, let’s just prevent it from even developing.
The easiest way to prevent disease is through vaccination. I have an aunt well into her 80’s who has lived her whole life with the effects of the polio she contracted as a child. We breast cancer survivors may not have effects as crippling from our disease, but we live with the scars and the concern over other cancers for the rest of our lives. My aunt was grateful that she could have her daughter vaccinated against polio and any ravages from the disease that she has to live with. The polio vaccine has truly been successful in preventing further outbreaks of polio during our lifetime.
For those of us who have battled breast cancer, the thought of our daughters, sisters, mothers, and sons going through the disease is frightening. The idea that they could be spared the ordeal of battling this life-threatening and sometime fatal disease is compelling. Finally, we have a real hope in the fight against breast cancer!
Are we really that close to a cure? Will it prevent metastasis for those of us who have already had breast cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes? When will all these questions be answered? It is hard to be patient when my passion is to see this disease eliminated from our society.