MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have developed a vaccine designed to prevent the recurrence of ovarian and breast cancer — and the FDA has given its approval.

Cancer is a frightening experience for anyone, but for women who have had breast or ovarian cancer, the fear that it will come back is great.

“When the does return, it typically is a much more difficult disease to treat,” said Mayo Clinic Immunologist Keith
Knutson, who helped develop the vaccines.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

While most cancer vaccines to date have been developed to fight patients’ tumors, Knutson’s group is interested in immunizing patients immediately after therapy, when they are healthy, to protect against relapse.

One new vaccine targets a protein that exists in abundance in breast and ovarian cancer cells. Containing fragments of the foliate receptor alphal protein, the vaccine teaches the body’s immune system to detect and eliminate diseased cells.

Because the protein is typical of nearly all breast and ovarian tumors, the vaccine is the first that may be applicable to the majority of patients.

Knutson said he hopes the vaccines will one day prevent cancer from coming back.

“So having additional strategies to fight disease is real critical for reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease,” he said.

Knutson called it an important first step but says it’s still a long way from being used in patients.


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