A vaccine that targets the over expression of the HER2 protein is currently being trialled in Asia to test the effects on gastric cancer patients. The HER2 protein is also associated with one of the most common forms of breast cancer, with 1 in 4 women with elevated levels of the protein.
The standard use of Herceptin for breast cancer treatment in Australia prevents the vaccine being trialled in Australia.
Prof. Ursula Wiedermann from the Medical University of Vienna and co-creator of the HER-vax explains that if the vaccine works, it would most likely be incorporated into the existing treatment program to improve survival.
A newly diagnosed patient with HER2 positive cancer would receive the vaccination to stimulate the body’s immune system. Standard treatments such as chemotherapy and Herceptin would then be loaded on top to kill off the cancer.
Eventually the vaccine could be used as a preventative measure and could even lead to patients with high risk being administered the vaccine with no diagnosis. Like the tetanus vaccine though, it would need boosters over the patient’s life to remain effective.
Read more about the vaccine: HERE.