Although we can list the environmental, genetic and lifestyle choices which increase a woman’s risks for getting breast cancer, we still can not trace the exact cause of most breast cancers. One of the most exciting theories being examined by researchers is that a vaccine could be developed against breast cancer. After years of treatment studies, science is asking the big question: Can breast cancer be cured?
Usually vaccines are only created after a clearly defined target cause, a unique virus or a bacteria, has been located. The problem? Scientists have no such target for breast cancer. However, today’s research proves that viruses do cause cancer. There is now a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, for example. James Gulley, who is a researcher at the National Cancer Institute has worked on vaccines to treat prostate cancer. He helped to discover that “HPV causes not only cervical tumors, but cancers of the head and neck, as well as the vulva, vagina, penis and anus. Hepatitis B can cause liver cancer, Gulley says. The Epstein-Barr virus can lead to at least three types of lymphomas.”
Recently, researchers found another virus, named HMTV, or human mammary tumor virus. Amazingly, they discovered its existence in 40% of breast tumors. More importantly, 2010 studies proved HMTV is especially present in the rare and deadly inflammatory breast cancer. The problem? Scientists don’t know if HMTV caused those cancers or was simply living in concert with them.
For the time being, many doctors say they have “more questions than answers about the role infections might play in breast cancer.”
A New Perspective
Although most research dollars have gone into the treatments for breast cancer, researchers are beginning to look other directions to stop the invasive surgeries and medicines typically given to the victims of breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition has organized a vaccine initiative called the Artemis Project. Their dollars will permit researchers to begin meticulous investigation of the genomes of tumors, their genes, for infectious microbes. Other research organizations and institutions have followed suit:
More Than Pink Lipstick
Likewise, The Avon Foundation for Women has given $6 million to studying the relationship between infections and breast cancer. In their approach, scientists willstudy, 1000 breast cancer samples whose genomes have already been sequenced. They will hunt down the mysterious signatures and signs of viruses or bacteria.
Another New Tactic
Meanwhile, many researchers are taking another path to discover a vaccine. The Cleveland Clinic, has zoned in on a protein that is “expressed on cancer cells, but not healthy tissue, except during lactation.” They have progressed to lab testing on mice.
The Protein Connection
Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania, are focusing on HER2+ breast tumors, whose cells have lots of copies of a protein called HER2.” They have already begun testing what they call “personalized cancer vaccines, made with women’s own immune cells. Doctors are testing the vaccines in women with DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ, a very early breast cancer or pre-cancer.”
How Can You Help?
Whatever the focus, we know that targeting proteins on cancer cells is difficult, because cancers arise from the body’s own cells. So the search goes on, as scientists hunt for a protein that is found on cancer cells but not healthy cells. In creating the cancer vaccine, they must to avoid autoimmune reactions. All of these research studies show promise, but the most valuable lesson to be learned here is the shift from only creating treatments to finding the cause and creating a vaccine.
Until the search for vaccine is victorious, women of today must take advantage of early detection, and spread the word with Pink Ribbons for more research. Breast cancer advocates who have seen today’s invasive surgeries and toxic treatments are eager for the new perspectives on vaccines, proteins, and genomes. “We’re not going to get very far unless we ask those big questions,” says Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
At Orlando Cosmetic Surgery, we know you might not be able to wear a white coat or used a microscope, but would you like to be motivated to be a part of ending breast cancer through support of initiatives such as those in this blog? Then we suggest you visit this informative site. Scientists, survivors, supporters and advocates have put a cure for breast cancer on the clock, and the deadline for the cure is 2020. Amazing things can happen when you have a deadline. Again, we hope you are wearing your pink ribbon.