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Research Under Way on Breast Cancer Vaccine

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DURHAM — Chemotherapy is by far one of the best treatments there is for metastatic breast cancer -- cancer that has spread from the place in which it started to other parts of the body -- but it is far from ideal.

Chemotherapy can be life saving for many patients. It can, however, cause considerable toxicity. And often, cancer becomes resistant to it.

A better option may be to get the body to kill tumor cells on its own.

Researchers are testing a new vaccine called Theratope on women with advanced breast cancer.

The initial studies of Theratope in more than 450 patients were very promising, in that patients appeared to have an improved survival and the toxicity was minimal.

Like all vaccines, Theratope works by stimulating the body's immune system, triggering it to attack cancer cells.

Patients get the test vaccine in a series of eight injections over six months. Each injection takes just a few minutes.

Although clinical trials are just getting under way, doctors are hopeful the vaccine could help millions of women beat breast cancer.

It may not work on every patient, but new options are needed, beyond traditional chemotherapy to treat cancer."

Researchers are looking for 900 patients with metastatic breast cancer to participate in the Theratope study.

Duke University Medical Center is conducting some of the trials. For more information call 919-660-1278.