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According to results recently presented at the 2006 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, an experimental HER2 vaccine may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in some women with high-risk early breast cancer.

Although cure rates remain high for patients with early breast cancer, particularly women with node-negative breast cancer, some of these women will experience a cancer recurrence and may ultimately succumb to their disease. Therefore, a reduction in the risk of recurrence among high-risk women is warranted.

HER2 is a protein that is overexpressed in twenty to thirty percent of breast cancers. Using a part of the HER2 protein (the E75 peptide), researchers have developed an experimental anticancer vaccine.

Findings evaluating the E75 peptide vaccine presented at the 2006 SABCS were combined results from two separate studies. One study included 90 node-positive breast cancer patients who were enrolled in a safety study, and the second study included 81 node-negative breast cancer patients who were enrolled in a dose optimization study.

Patients underwent standard surgical and medical procedures and had no evidence of cancer prior to administration of the vaccine.

Patients have now been followed for 24 months.

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  • The rate of cancer recurrence was 8% in women who received the vaccine and 16% in women who did not receive the vaccine.
  • Overall survival was 99% in women who received the vaccine and 95% among women who did not receive the vaccine.
  • The differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated women in rate of recurrence and overall survival did not meet the criteria for statistical significance. This means that the differences between groups could have occurred by chance alone. The relatively small number of women evaluated may have contributed to the lack of statistical significance.

The researchers concluded that, although not statistically significant in this small study, it appears that the E75 vaccine may reduce cancer recurrence in women with high-risk early breast cancer. A Phase III clinical trial further evaluating this vaccine is warranted.

Reference: Peoples G, Khoo S, Dehqanzada Z, et al. Combined Clinical Trial Results of a HER2/neu (E75) Vaccine for Prevention of Recurrence in High-Risk Breast Cancer Patients. Proceedings from the 2006 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Oral presentation December 14, December 2006. Abstract #4.

Related News:Vaccine May Reduce Likelihood of Breast Cancer Recurrence (10/11/2005)

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