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Melbourne firm Imugen developing breast cancer vaccine

  • Melbourne-based biotech firm Imugen funding trials of breast cancer vaccine
  • It would work by stimulating an immune response to ward off cancerous growth
  • Imugen’s Professor Ursula Wiedermann said it would be like a tetanus booster
  • Vaccine would also be used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation 

An Australian company is developing a vaccine to treat a common form of breast cancer.

Melbourne-based biotech firm Imugen is funding a trial in Europe that could one day prevent cancer.

Studies on mice have shown the vaccine sparking an immune response to cancer, and improving survival rates by slowing the growth rate of tumours.

Melbourne-based biotech firm Imugen is developing a vaccine to treat common breast cancer

It is hoped the vaccine will help the one in four women with breast cancer experiencing problems with the HER2 protein.

This is a situation where the gene, which normally controls the growth of breast cells, grows and multiplies by making too many copies of itself.

Imugen’s chief scientific officer Professor Ursula Wiedermann, who is also the Professor of Tropical Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, said an eventual breast cancer vaccine would be like a tetanus booster that is administered every few years.

‘It’s like tetanus, you need a booster vaccine to keep the memory of the immune system activated,’ she told The Daily Telegraph.

Imugen's chief scientific officer Professor Ursula Wiedermann said a vaccine could be administered every few years like a tetanus booster

Imugen’s chief scientific officer Professor Ursula Wiedermann said a vaccine could be administered every few years like a tetanus booster

Trials have shown the vaccine in mice stimulating an enhanced immune system response

Trials have shown the vaccine in mice stimulating an enhanced immune system response

A successful trial would see the vaccine used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat breast cancer by boosting the immune system.

They would be given the vaccine before the other treatments. 

It would also be prescribed with Herceptin, a drug which is used to treat both breast and gastric cancers. 

Professor Wiedermann said this breast cancer vaccine could one day be used to prevent cancer by stimulating an immune response in at-risk women. 

‘If you had a certain gene and your risk of cancer was high it would make sense to prophylactically vaccinate,’ she told the newspaper. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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