Cancer vaccine research focuses on the treatment and prevention of several cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers. This research encompasses basic immunobiology, clinical trials and clinical translation to help patients at high risk avoid disease or to prevent cancer from relapsing after patients receive optimal conventional therapies.
Current research focus areas include:
Triple-negative breast cancer
Mayo Clinic researchers have been awarded a $13.3 million, five-year federal grant to test a vaccine designed to prevent the recurrence of triple-negative breast cancer, a subset of breast cancer for which there are currently no targeted therapies.
Early breast lesions
Currently, physicians cannot identify which precancerous breast lesions are potentially dangerous. So, all women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ undergo traditional therapy of surgery and possibly hormonal therapy and radiation. Using a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Mayo Clinic researchers are testing a vaccine that they hope will replace standard therapies and prevent recurrence by offering lifelong immunity for some, if not all, of these patients.
Advanced metastatic breast cancer
In collaboration with the National Breast Treatment Coalition, Mayo Clinic has developed a vaccine that could prevent all three subtypes of breast cancer — estrogen receptor (ER) positive, HER2 positive and triple negative. The vaccine targets six proteins (HER2-neu, mammaglobin-A, MAGEA3, survivin, hTERT and MUC1) that are encoded in a patient's DNA and have been found through multiple studies to overexpress in breast cancers.
Breast and ovarian cancer
Researchers at Mayo Clinic have developed a vaccine that could be available within eight years that may not only stop the recurrence of breast and ovarian cancers but also prevent them from developing in the first place.
Ovarian cancer vaccines are a type of immunotherapy, which is treatment that harnesses the body's germ-fighting immune system to attack cancer cells. Researchers hope to use ovarian vaccines to train immune system cells to detect and attack any cancer cells that reappear after initial treatment for ovarian cancer has been completed.
Current research and active clinical trials are also exploring vaccine immunotherapy for other types of cancer, such as lung, bladder, pancreatic, skin, head and neck, and blood. Mayo Clinic is investigating several preventive, therapeutic and personalized neoantigen vaccines.