Vaccine Decreases Recurrence of Cancer in HER2 Positive Patients

A new vaccine called NeuVax is showing promise in trials with HER2 positive cancer patients. The vaccine stimulates a lifelong antitumor response in the patients' immune systems, which will help to prevent the cancer from returning.

In a study published in Science Daily, in a phase ll clinical trial of 190 breast cancer survivors, half of the patients received an immune stimulant and the new vaccine while the other half received just the immune stimulant.

Women with the HER2 form of the disease who were vaccinated were found to have a reduced the recurrence rate by 57 percent. Women with HER2 3+, had no recurrences of breast cancer when they completed Herceptin treatment and received the vaccine. 

According to the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Department of Defense, lead investigator Elizabeth Mittendorf, M.D., Ph.D. said that the vaccine could be used routinely in the next three to five years in the treatment of patients with low HER2 expressing tumors.

In addition to listing the recurrence rate, the study found the vaccine improves patient survival. For all 190 patients, including those who did not complete the trial, the disease-free survival (DFS) rate was 88 percent among those who received the vaccine and 81 percent in the control group, representing a 37 percent reduction in recurrence. Not including the patients who didn't finish the vaccine series, the results are higher – a 94 percent DFS rate versus 85 percent who did not get the vaccine – a 57 percent risk reduction. 

A larger trial of 700 women internationally who have the low HER2 expression of the disease with some cancer cells in their lymph nodes is in the works to further establish the studies findings.

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