Breast cancer vaccine within 10 years ‘a reasonable goal’

Breakthroughs across the field have brought scientists to a "tipping point in our understanding," says a pioneer of this research.

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Dr. Mary Lenora “Nora” Disis has devoted her career to learning how the body fights cancer and to developing a breast cancer vaccine. Based on that understanding, she thinks that milestone of a vaccine becoming publicly available to patients is viable within 10 years.  

“We've kind of come to a tipping point in our understanding of cancer vaccines,” said Disis, a professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology & Oncology at University of Washington School of Medicine. “With the body of work out there now, with the number of investigators out there now, with the data I'm seeing published now, I think that is a reasonable goal to hit.” 

In addition to targeting HER2 positive breast cancers in a vaccine currently in a Phase 2 clinical trial, Disis, director of the UW Medicine Cancer Vaccine Institute, is leading a trial of another vaccine aimed at protecting high-risk patients from developing breast cancer. 

“We developed a vaccine that targets five proteins that are very commonly upregulated in breast cancer stem cells,” she said. “We're testing it in patients who have triple-negative breast cancer because their breast cancers have a lot of stem cell-like features.” 

Download broadcast-ready soundbites with Disis on the latest in breast cancer vaccine research. 

UW Medicine