Just a week ago, I heard that new breast cancer drugs, Pertuzumab and Afinito were applied to the FDA, but this week I read more exciting news, about a cancer vaccine.(http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/13/cancer-vaccine-could-be-available-in-three-years/ , and http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/12/11/could-this-be-the-end-of-cancer.html)
Usually our antibody can’t recognize cancer, which is a mutation of our healthy cell, even if we fortify our immune system.
However, apparently in cancer vaccine an injected antigen navigates white killer cells, called T cells, to cancer cells and destroy them.
I have heard the good news that the reformed T-cell cured terminal leukemia patients, but surprisingly, cervical cancer vaccines (for prevention)have been already on the market, and an immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma has been also approved by the FDA this year.
Regarding the breast cancer vaccine, it has shown 90% success in animal experiments and the clinical trial has been already available for several years.
The most interestingly, this breast cancer vaccine is targeting HER2 +, which is my cancer type, although researchers expect this may work on other types of breast cancer.
One of the nasty tricks of cancer is that it gets immune against drugs: Even if a drug is effective, eventually it will lose its power, but a vaccine is different. Once our antibody cell, the T-cell, recognizes cancer, it will chase after cancer even if it mutates. Our body is just amazing and God’s creation is awesome!
While chemo and radiation therapies will weaken an immune system by attacking healthy cells, as well as cancer cells, and make a body vulnerable against other diseases, a vaccine therapy may work better without chemo or radiation. If we can replace chemo and radiation with the vaccine, this will be more than welcome!
Concerns of the Vaccine
The vaccine may not work if a body is already weak, just like a flu shot may not help some elders whose immune systems were already weak, and also if an antigen alights on a healthy cells, T-cells will attack the them instead of cancer cells.
Although there are still battles we have to overcome, the terminator is surely coming! We, cancer patients, have to hang on and wait for “it” patiently.