Breast of Fresh Air
New Trial Vaccine Prevents Breast Cancer in Mice
There's no greater buzzkill than the subject of cancer, especially that which threatens your glorious ta tas, so it's exciting to note that we actually have something positive to announce on the breast cancer front. CBS News reports that, in a recent study, researchers at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute created a trial vaccine that was successful in preventing breast cancer in mice. The vaccine is not guaranteed to advance to human trials, but the study's principal investigator is hopeful, believing it could ultimately help eliminate breast cancer.
Traditionally, it's been difficult to develop cancer vaccines because cancer cells are actually just normal cells that grow and reproduce too quickly; any medicine that would destroy cancer cells would thus run the risk of putting healthy tissue in jeopardy. (While scientists have developed two vaccines that prevent cervical and liver cancer, these are not true cancer vaccines because they target cancer-causing viruses, HPV and Hepatitis B, not the cervical and liver cancers themselves).
The trial breast cancer vaccine investigated in this study presents a unique solution to this dilemma because it zeros in on a protein called α-lactalbumin, which is only found in breast cells when a woman is producing breast milk or when she has breast cancer. Because it targets only this specific protein, the vaccine doesn't endanger healthy tissue.
In the Ohio study, researchers took two groups of mice that were genetically engineered to be predisposed for breast cancer. They gave the first group of rodents the vaccine, and the second group (control group) received a placebo-type shot. After 10 months, all of the mice in the control group had large breast tumors, but dramatically, not a single mouse that received the vaccine had breast cancer. The researchers also discovered that when they gave the vaccine to mice that already had breast tumors, it inhibited further tumor growth.
The vaccine, once fully vetted, would likely be intended for premenopausal women over age 40 (the age group at the greatest risk for breast cancer) who weren't planning to have children.
As Heidi Montag, Janet Jackson or Pamela Anderson will tell you, boobs create a lot of drama. At least in this case, it's a good sort of attention.