Researchers have been testing a breast cancer vaccine on mice and the results are encouraging…

The body’s immune system can effectively fight breast cancer with the help of a new vaccine technique, researchers show in mice trials.

The HER2-positive breast cancer accounts for between 20 and 30 per cent of all cases of breast cancer in humans. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Bologna now show that the same type of cancer can be fought in mice with help of their new vaccine.

What is exciting about our treatment technique is that it makes the body do the work. We do not inject foreign antibodies, but leave it to the body to produce them – Susan Thrane

The immune system has difficulties distinguishing between breast cancer cells and healthy cells. Therefore, it normally does not launch a protective immune response that can prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading.

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However, the research group is able to change that by adding an antigen which is normally expressed on the cancer cells onto the surface of a virus-like particle.

“Our virus-like particle with the added cancer antigen makes the body believe it is under attack. This makes the immune system produce large amounts of antibodies targeted at the cancer antigen, which then fights the cancer cells in the mice,” says Associate Professor and author of the study Adam F. Sander from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

Related: Breast cancer: The importance of early detection

The study

The vaccine was given to two different groups of mice genetically coded to develop two different types of breast cancer.

The vaccine cured 80 per cent of the mice with tumour fragments while in the group with human cancer cells, all of the mice developed cancer, but at a much slower pace than usual.

The researchers also took blood from the mice that produced the relevant antibodies and tested it on human cancer cells. Here too the effect was hard to miss. All the human cancer cells bound to the antibodies in the right way.

“What is exciting about our treatment technique is that it makes the body do the work. We do not inject foreign antibodies, but leave it to the body to produce them,” says Susan Thrane, author of the study.

Source: University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences via www.sciencedaily.com

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