With all the bad news in the world about oil spills and international conflicts, we’ve somehow managed to overlook the news that scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for breast cancer.
Earlier this week, researchers at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic proudly announced that they are in the process of producing the world’s first vaccine to prevent breast cancer. The vaccine was tested on mice and according to CNN, it successfully “prevents breast cancer tumors from forming… and also stymied the growth of existing tumors.”
The vaccine works by coaxing the immune system to target a specific protein that is present in about 70% of breast cancer, but not in otherwise healthy breasts. The biggest obstacle until now, according to Vincent Tuohy, the lead researcher in the study, has been to prompt the body to fight the development of breast cancer without triggering the immune system to “attack” healthy breast tissue. This breakthrough seems to take care of that issue.
"We found the first way of creating a self-vaccine that can be used prophylactically, in a preventive manner, to protect us against a disease before we get it just like polio and measles,” Tuohy told Voice of America.
However, this miracle cure does have a downside. As the Telegraph UK points out, the protein that the vaccine focuses on, called Alpha-lactalbumin, is also present in breast milk. So this vaccine could render it impossible for a woman to breast feed.
For the time being, there are still several more steps that Tuohy and his fellow researchers need to take. The FDA requires that he test the vaccine on another species, and then he plans to move on to human trials sometime next year. Still, it could be 10 years or more before the final vaccine ends up in the hands of those who need it. But at least there’s hope that a cure is coming.