Cancer researchers are exploring multiple avenues in their quest to develop a preventative vaccine for breast cancer. As noted in our previous post, vaccines typically target a specific virus or bacteria which has complicated development of breast cancer vaccine.
Unlike the smallpox virus or polio virus which provided researchers with a clear target for vaccine development, breast cancer appears to have multiple causes, only some of which may be viral or bacterial. For example, the human mammary tumor virus (HMTV) is found in 40% of breast tumors. While HMTV’s role in tumor development is not yet understood, at best future development of a HMTV vaccine would have the potential to prevent fewer than half of breast cancers.
Despite the complexities, development of a breast cancer vaccine is a top priority among cancer researchers who are tiring of chasing treatments without addressing the cause of breast cancer. Voicing the frustration many members of the cancer community share, Fran Visco of the National Breast Cancer Coalition told USA Today that in the U.S. “the vast majority of research dollars [are spent] on the next treatment for breast cancer. But we only see incremental benefits from all of these treatment drugs.”
To spur research, NBCC has launched the Artemis Project, a breast cancer vaccine initiative. Some of the more promising research under way is attempting to define the tumor environment, such as the role infections and proteins play in tumor development. Once again, traditional medicine is following in the footsteps of Issels’ founder. Issels Integrative Oncology already offers dendritic cell vaccines and cell therapies that target the cancer tumor microenvironment.