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Soon, vaccine to prevent breast cancer

Scientists claimed to have developed a vaccine that can save women from developing breast cancer and can also treat those suffering from the disease. Read on to know more.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 01, 2010 17:54 IST

Breast cancerScientists claimed to have developed a vaccine that can save women from developing breast cancer and can also treat those suffering from the disease.

All women over 40 could be given a jab that prevents them getting breast cancer. The drug, which goes on trial within a year, has been shown to stop tumours ever appearing and also to attack those that are already present.

The vaccine can be given to women before they reach their mid-40s, when the risk of breast cancer starts to rise steeply. The drug could wipe out up to 70 percent of breast cancers, saving more than 8,000 lives a year in Britain alone, The Telegraph reported.

According to Vincent Tuohy, the jab's creator, it promised to offer "substantial protection" and raised the prospect of wiping out the disease altogether.

"We truly believe that a preventive breast cancer vaccine will do to breast cancer what the polio vaccine has done to polio," he said.

The vaccine is based on protein called alpha-lactalbumin that lurks in most breast cancer tumours.

In tests on mice bred to develop breast cancers by the age of 10 months, the drug was found to keep them free of tumours, the journal Nature Medicine reports.

The drug also harnessed the power of the immune system to shrink pre-existing tumours by up to half, suggesting it could be used as a treatment as well as a vaccine.

Caitlin Palframan, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "This research could have important implications for how we might prevent breast cancer in the future.

"However, this is an early stage study, and we look forward to seeing the results of large-scale clinical trials to find out if this vaccine would be safe and effective in humans".