Scope 44 - Breast cancer vaccine on hold

26 April 2011, Cancer

Christchurch earthquakes have had unexpected consequences for research into a potential breast cancer vaccine.

This significant project is being supported by funds from the Breast Cancer Research Trust. Headed by Prof Mike Berridge, the first phase of the work took place over thepast 18 months. However, due to the economic downturn resulting from factors such as the quakes, the Trust has had to make financial adjustments resulting in the need to temporarily suspend the second stage.

The Malaghan Institute's breast cancer project aims to develop vaccination strategies that stimulate a patient's immune cells to seek and destroy cells responsible for tumour initiation and spread.

A preclinical model of metastatic breast cancer has been established that shows a targeted vaccine approach can successfully block the cancer spread.

However, the highly complex research cannot be undertaken without the necessary funding in place. It remains a priority for both the Institute and the Trust to continue as soon as possible, although no date is currently set. With funds available, the plan is to explore anti-cancer immune responses in breast cancer patients and initiate a therapeutic vaccination trial.