Are We on the Cusp of a Breast Cancer Vaccine?

Dr. Nora Disis, director of the Cancer Vaccine Institute at UW Medicine and a University of Washington and Fred Hutch Cancer Center faculty member, is close to a breakthrough breast cancer vaccine.

Disis and her team published phase 1 trial results of a DNA vaccine targeting human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) last November in the medical journal JAMA Oncology. The trial results showed 66 women with advanced-stage metastatic breast cancer received the shot and were monitored for 10 years, with 80 percent of participants still alive. Phase 2 trial enrollment is still ongoing with hopes of successful results. 

“It’s taken some time to put the pieces together, but we’ve learned so much about immunotherapy and viral diseases that now people are moving from the laboratory into the clinic in a very rapid way,” said Disis. “When you’re in the trenches, you don’t necessarily think about the impact every day, but it’s my life’s work. To see a vaccine get approved to become part of the standard of care for the treatment of cancer, I think that would just be mind-blowing.”

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