Breast cancer vaccine offering 'hope,' could be available in several years

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Thursday, December 14, 2023
Breast cancer vaccine could be available in several years
A breast cancer vaccine in clinical trial is bringing hope to medical professionals and breast cancer survivors.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A breast cancer vaccine in clinical trial is giving medical professionals and breast cancer survivors hope.

The vaccine is nowhere close to being brought to the marketplace and doctors say it'll be years before it's available, but there is promise.

"That whole anxiety piece ramps up every year. We have to get scans done multiple times a year," said breast cancer survivor Meg Kornegay.

She is doing great these days after being diagnosed at 35 years old. Kornegay is in remission and last month, another scan found she's still cancer-free.

Kornegay knows others aren't as fortunate and the breast cancer vaccine being studied right now could be a game changer.

"Knowing that eventually something is coming, something's in the works, I think it'll definitely give them hope for the future," she said.

The first clinical trial was recently conducted at the Cleveland Clinic.

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The sample size was extremely small, only 16 people participated. They received three shots once every two weeks.

The study found that 75% of patients had a good immune response.

The vaccine targets triple-negative breast cancer, which is the most aggressive and deadliest form. Participants in the trial had already been treated for that type of breast cancer.

Dr. Zachary Hartman with Duke Cancer Institute says researchers are trying to determine if it could prevent the development of cancer reoccurrence.

"If we can keep it from coming back, I think that would be a huge win," he said.

Hartman said the vaccine might someday be used as one tool to fight breast cancer in conjunction with other treatments.

"Is this vaccine enough to take out a metastasis cancer, no - it seems unlikely, but with some of the other types of therapies that we're developing," said Hartman.

Kornegay said the initial findings are motivating her to do more to win the overall battle.

"We help to raise funds. We fight for the cure rate. We wear pink ribbons in October, but we never really see an outcome from it," said Kornegay. "With the idea of a vaccine later on down the road, hopefully, all of our fundraising efforts, all of our awareness efforts like those will come to fruition and we can have something that's tangible that will help extend our lives."

There will be a total of three trials. Researchers are in the planning stages right now for the second.