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Breast Cancer Vaccine Shown To Be Safe, Effective

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KETV: A vaccine being studied as a way to help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer is proven to be safe and effective, according to University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers.

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The study has been under way for 10 years, including clinical tests that UNMC team has been conducting for the past four years.

The vaccine works by enabling the patient's immune cells to fight off cancer cells. Researchers said they've isolated a specific protein called P-53 that changes the growth of tumors. They hope that by manipulating that protein, they might be able to completely prevent the recurrence of breast cancer.

"It's commonly described as, say, acting like a magic bullet in that it goes out and finds a tumor cell and kills it," said lead researcher Dr. James Talmadge.

He said that his study, funded by $3 million in grants, have focused on ways to let patient's own body serve as the best medicine.

"In this approach, they're trying to add an immunotherapy by boosting the person's own immune system against the breast cancer cells," said University of Nebraska Medical Center Cancer Center Director Dr. Ken Cowan.

In clinical trials on P-53 that began in 2005, researchers said the vaccine was nearly 100 percent effective in stopping the growth of tumors.

"I think the odds are really improving that we're developing something that will be successful," said Talmadge.

Breast cancer survivor Lola Martin said the news brings her hope. She said that without medical studies and research volunteers, she and thousands of others wouldn't be alive.

"If you can get into a research study, do so," she said. "Because I think it's important and it makes you feel good at a time you're feeling really bad."

Doctors said that while this particular study is over, they hope to conduct a similar study with a larger group of patients. Anyone who is interested in taking part should have their doctors get in touch with the UNMC researchers.

Scientists said it could still be another five years before the treatment could be widely available for all patients.

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