The Mayo Clinic is known for its major advances in medical research, and the vaccine they’re currently testing is no exception. If successful, this injection could change the lives of thousands of people who have already survived breast cancer and are battling to keep it from coming back.
The new vaccine, called the folate receptor alpha vaccine, is meant for people who have already had triple-negative breast cancer and survived. This type of cancer is very aggressive and has a high recurrence rate, which means many people who fought the disease once will have to fight for their lives yet again just a few years later. But researchers are working to change that.
The series of vaccines works by stimulating the patient’s immune system to develop antibodies against the cancer so that when cancer cells reappear, they can be quickly killed before they have a chance to grow, multiply, and spread.
“I’m very excited,” says Dr. Saranya Chumsri, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic. “I’m always believing in immunotherapy. I think that’s the future of cancer treatment.”
About 70 patients are currently undergoing the seven-year vaccine trial at the Mayo Clinic. So far, Dr. Chumsri says participants have not been showing any concerning or debilitating side effects.
“If you have the health and the stamina to be able to do it, we want no one to have to go through surgery and radiation and all that,” says Laraine Redshaw, a triple-negative breast cancer survivor and participant in the trial. She says she’s heard of so many people’s cancer returning that she’s started to think it’s inevitable that she’ll someday have a relapse too…unless this trial can prevent it from happening.
check out the video below to learn more about the vaccine series trial and how it could change the way we look at triple-negative cancer.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?