First breast cancer vaccine passes phase I clinical trials

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Doctors at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) are done with a Phase I breast cancer vaccine trial.

The breast cancer vaccine induced antibody responses in the “small group of participants who received five injections of the vaccine” in 23 weeks. Consequently, clinical vaccine collaborators Dr .Thomas Kieber-Emmons, PhD, and Dr. Laura Hutchins, M.D., are happy with the trial’s success. Hutchins selected participants for the Phase I trial. Kieber-Emmons developed the vaccine at UAMS.

The trial at UAMS is the first time a breast cancer vaccine has been tested in humans outside of US military families. The human trial trumps research by others—from Dr. Vincent Tuohy in Cleveland to the United States Army. In October 2013, Tuohy found breast cancer vaccine success in lab mice. Tuohy needed funding for a Phase I trial. UAMS received its funding from a Clinical Translational Award from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Program.

In 2012, the United States Army’s Cancer Vaccine Development Program was set to begin Phase III trials in the beginning of 2013. You can read more about its program here.

Kieber-Emmons’ peptide vaccine was designed to “trigger an immune response that destroys the cancer cells. The peptide (a computer generated chemical compound) “mimics carbohydrates that are attached to the cancer cells and tricks the immune system into attacking those carbohydrates” (UAMS).

Phase II of the trial begins in “the next few months to examine if the vaccine improves the efficacy of preoperative chemotherapy” (UAMS). In other words, Phase II seeks to determine whether or not the “combination of vaccine and standard chemotherapy improves the benefit from preoperative therapy.”


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