TAMPA - Diane Altenburg is a breast cancer survivor. After being diagnosed with breast cancer twice, and going through chemotherapy and radiation, she's now trying to stay peaceful and healthy. Relaxation projects like origami might help, but she hopes an experimental vaccine called NeuVax will also be her ticket to staying cancer free.
She enrolled in phase two of a FDA clinical trial of the drug.
NeuVax is an immunotherapy designed to keep patients who have already been treated for breast cancer - cancer free. The antigen, or immunotherapy, is manufactured, then injected into a patient's thigh. There are no other steps. Diane says, "the vaccinations were done every six months. Then you'd go back a couple of days later to have it read. It's on your thigh and then read this red rash to see if your immune system is activating."
That's what the vaccine is supposed to do - trigger your own immune system to attack any surviving or growing cancer cells. Right now the phase three study has just opened up nationally but Doctor Hatem Soliman of Moffitt Cancer Center says, "Based on prior studies leading up to this, which Diane was in earlier, there was promising signs in women that received these vaccines especially when they got booster shots that they were able to significantly reduce the incidences of breast cancer reoccurrence."
Phase three trials, he says, will be to confirm those findings in a larger group of women that will include Moffitt patients. Doctor Soliman says they should start enrolling patients who meet certain qualifications in a couple of weeks. "The idea is if we vaccinate those women during the time when they are most at risk potentially their immune system can continue to survey their body and if they come across a cancerous cell, kill it before it has a chance to make new tumors and spread so the hope is to actually cure it."
Diane says she's a couple of years out of her trial with the vaccine and is still cancer free.
Usually, Phase three trials have to be completed before the drug becomes available to the general public and that could take years but if you'd like to learn more about the vaccine and the requirements to enter the clinical trial underway now go to: www.NeuVax.com