Peter Beitsch, MD/

Breast Cancer Vaccines - Back to the Future

Immunotherapy for breast cancer is still in its infancy (compared to melanoma for example with well established treatments).  Current strategies are focusing on vaccines and augmenting the innate immune system.

Vaccines are divided into 2 categories - therapeutic vaccines for treatment (currently stage 4 patients) and preventive vaccines (think childhood vaccinations for infectious diseases).  Therapeutic breast cancer vaccine strategies include targeting Her2 peptide fragments, mammaglobin-A DNA, Oncofetal Antigen (OFA), dendritic cell ex vivo stimulation and PANVAC (Muc-1, CEA targets with T-cell stinulators).  Preventive targets include Her2 and E75.

Non-Specific immuno-modulation strategies include removing suppressor T cells (anti-CTLA-4) ipilimumab which releases the suppression of T killer cells  and anti-PDL1 (tumor cell antigen) and anti-PD1 (T cell antigen) which 'unmask' the tumor cell from the immune system.  Combinations of these drugs are being studied in melanoma and other cancer types.

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