Breast cancer vaccine could stop tumors before they start

A massage, a manicure...and a mammogram?

To the clinking of glasses during a hearty “Cheers!” mammogram parties—thrown by doctors across the country—are taking the fear out of the mammogram machine.

"We would like to see more women come out and participate in screening mammography,” said Radiologist Mickey Jester. “It saves lives."

But mammograms may soon become passé when it comes to detection of breast cancer.

An experimental breakthrough breath test at Georgia Tech measures organic compounds breathed out from the lungs and identifies those associated with breast cancer.

"A patient could be told right away, 'Yes, it looks like something's there,'” said Sheryl Gabram, a Breast Surgical Oncologist at the Emory Winship Cancer Institue.

But Immunologist Vincent Tuohy is a step ahead. He hopes to kill breast cancer even before it can be found on a mammogram or in a breath test.

“The best thing to do is to try and prevent the tumor to appear to begin with," he said.

At the Cleveland Clinic, Tuohy's developed the very first breast cancer vaccine. "We targeted a self-protein that is expressed in most breast cancers but not in normal breast tissue,” he explained.

In his research in the lab, the vaccine prevented the disease in 100 percent of the cases. The idea is to give this to women in their forties and fifties when they are most at risk of developing breast cancer.

"It's a giant deficiency in our health care,” Tuohy said. “I think once I point it out, everyone says, 'Yeah, you're right,' but we haven't done a thing about it."

Until now. And this could change the lives and save the lives of women around the world.


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