A vaccine can help improve treatment outcomes in patients with metastatic breast cancer, latest research shows.
Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in the US found that the vaccine activated the immune system to fight tumour cells and slowed down cancer progression.
The vaccine, which worked by targeting mammaglobin-A, a protein expressed in breast tumours, also involved only a few side effects, the researchers said in a news release.
Metastatic disease or metastasis is a term used to describe spread of a deadly cancer from its original site to other parts of the body - mainly bones, lungs and liver.
Metastasis or the stage IV breast cancer can be found in about 6-10% of all breast cancer cases and is often detected only after the completion of cancer treatment.
The condition requires life-long treatment with chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiation and surgery, according to experts.
During the trial, 14 patients with metastatic breast cancer received the vaccine.
Results showed that the vaccine slowed cancer progression, even in the advanced stages of the disease. The vaccine involved only a very few side effects and stalled disease progression in seven patients.
"Despite the weakened immune systems in these patients, we did observe a biologic response to the vaccine while analyzing immune cells in their blood samples," breast cancer surgeon and senior author of the study, William E Gillanders, said in a news release. "That's very encouraging. We also saw preliminary evidence of improved outcome, with modestly longer progression-free survival."
The ground-breaking innovation is expected to help improve chances of survival involved in breast cancer.
"If we give the vaccine to patients at the beginning of treatment, the immune systems should not be compromised like in patients with metastatic disease," Gillanders added.
However, researchers said the vaccine cannot provide any benefits to tumours that do not produce mammaglobin-A.
The study has been reported in Clinical Cancer Research.