Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Leading Breast Cancer Expert Shares Clinical Research on Vaccines

Read Transcript

Published on July 18, 2019

Are vaccines in development to ward off breast cancer or prevent recurrence? Leading expert Dr. Sasha Stanton shares clinical research on preventative and treatment vaccines for breast cancer. Tune in to learn more about the goals of cancer vaccine studies. 

Featuring

You might also like

Transcript | Leading Breast Cancer Expert Shares Clinical Research on Vaccines

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

And right now in our current clinical trials we are much more looking at that second question.  So we have a vaccine for patients who have had breast cancer in the past, and we're trying to teach their immune system. Much like you'd teach your immune system to recognize if you've had the flu and destroy it, we want to teach their immune system to recognize if they get a cancer that comes back again and destroy it before it became spread throughout their body.  

With breast cancer, it's our cells, and so we have to find targets that won't cause problems with our normal functioning of our body, and that is what a lot of my colleagues at the University of Washington and throughout the country and the world have been working on for this to develop a prevention vaccine that would be a pure prevention vaccine.  

In ER?positive breast cancer and in triple?negative breast cancer we have other proteins that are overexpressed.  Triple?negative breast cancer has a lot of stem cell?like proteins, and we actually had a vaccine called STEMVAC that we have completed a Phase 1 clinical trial in again looking to target those breast cancer stem cells.  So it is important, and in my work I have been looking across the breast cancer subtypes to try to find targets that will hit multiples of the subtypes.  Because you're absolutely correct that not all breast cancer is the same.  

Similarly, we know that the immune response that's developed against each of the different types of breast cancer is different, and so we??as a second part of my research is also trying to figure out how we can use different immune therapies along with vaccines to ensure that each of the different subtypes can actually respond to a vaccine and have the efficacy of a vaccine.  

But we've done vaccinations and vaccine studies in breast cancer for decades now in the Cancer Vaccine Institute at the University of Washington and have no data that we are inducing cancer with vaccinating.  I think what is happening is we may not be able to control it with our understanding of the immune system and how we're developing vaccines, but we learn more and more and more every day and with the goal of really getting to the point that we can do that.  

So right now that is what it entails.  I believe as we move this forward and we need to follow people's immune responses, their titers, we're going to have to possibly do boosters where people will come back and have to get a second vaccine a year out, two years out, farther down the line.  But right now that's how our vaccines are typically structured.   

And we're looking at many of these different combinations much more to target women who have disease, still have disease as well as women to prevent recurrence.  

Andrew Schorr:

So, as you said, you're a medical oncologist.  As you do this research and seeing patients as well, should it give us hope?  

And my advocates call me to task all the time.  Well, why are you asking this and not that?  And it's important, it's critical, it's fantastic, and I really do want patients though to have hope.  Because we are—we're trying our hardest.  There are many sleepless nights where I worry about my patients, and there are also many sleepless nights where I worry about my research, so we are working very hard for this but we still have a long way to go.  

Andrew Schorr reminding you knowledge can be the best medicine of all.  

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.