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Cancer Vaccine Shows Success for HER2-positive Cancers


Cancers Caused by Smoking (CDC)

Imagine a vaccine that can stop cancer? While this may sound too good to be true, in fact an immunotherapy vaccine for HER2-positive cancers has shown positive results in a Phase 1 clinical trial, according to a news release by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). These results were presented at the Fourth CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival, held Sept. 30–Oct. 3 in New York. HER2 is responsible for the growth of several kinds of cancer such as breast, ovarian, lung, gastroesophageal and colorectal.

Vaccine Made from Patient’s own Immune System

Each patient’s vaccine is tailored individually using their very own immune cells that are changed genetically with an adenovirus to develop parts of the HER2 protein.

Early Results from the Phase 1 Clinical Trial

After they were enrolled in the trial, patients received injections at the beginning and then at 4, 8, 16 and 24 weeks. Those six patients who received the lowest doses of the vaccine did not show any improvement. However,  the 11 patients who received larger dosages of 10 or 20 million dendritic cells per injection showed benefits. There were no bad side effects from the vaccine, except for local reactions at the injection site that did not require any treatment. Thus, the researchers decided to increase the dosage of the vaccine to 40 million dendritic cells per injection and they opened the trial to patients who had been treated previously for HER2 cancers, including people with breast cancer.

Previous Research

Previous research showed that this method could attack well established large tumors in mice.

Miracle of Immunotherapy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

A new immunotherapy treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hillman Cancer Center eliminated all signs of cancer in a woman named Shari Kienzle, who had been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). The Hillman Cancer Center is one of a group of cancer centers that tests new immunotherapy treatments in clinical trials, but only after someone has undergone two failed conventional treatments. Since Shari Kienzle’s treatments with chemotherapy had failed and in fact the cancer was becoming more aggressive, she was admitted to the new Yescarta immunotherapy treatment, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved in January, 2018. Yescarta is made from the white blood T cells of a patient’s own immune system. These are genetically engineered so that they will destroy cancer cells when they are re-introduced into a patient’s body. Shari along with 51% of other patients showed complete remission from cancer, but 49% did not show any improvement. Shari suffered very bad side effects from the immunotherapy treatment and was admitted to Intensive care where she was in a coma for four days and spent several weeks in the ICU. However, she was finally found to be cancer free and was able to return to her husband, daughters and job.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that in 2018, 1,735,350 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 will die from cancer.

Most Common Cancers

  1. Breast Cancer
  2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer
  3. Prostate Cancer
  4. Colorectal Cancer
  5. Malignant Melanoma Skin Cancer
  6. Bladder Cancer
  7. Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
  8. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer
  9. Endometrial Cancer
  10. Leukemia
  11. Pancreatic Cancer
  12. Thyroid Cancer
  13. Liver Cancer

Rehabilitation from Cancer Treatment and Surgery

If you or your loved one are in need of a good skilled rehab and care center to recover from cancer surgery or treatment, the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York offers outstanding rehabilitation therapy as well as palliative care.

Brooklyn Hospitals Near Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center

New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)

SUNY Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital of Brooklyn

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County

Maimonides Medical Center


It is encouraging that immunotherapy can put cancer patients into remission when chemotherapy has failed. However, the immunotherapy only works for about 50% of patients with cancer. It is to be hoped that with more research and trials that immunotherapy will become more successful and will not have dangerous side effects.


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