Elizabeth Mittendorf, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses the use of peptide vaccines for the treatment of breast cancer.
In her presentation at the 12th International Congress on the Future of Breast Cancer from July 18-20, 2013, in Huntington Beach, CA, Mittendorf spoke about HER2-targeted vaccine therapies.
Provenge, for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, is the only FDA-approved cancer vaccine, Mittendorf notes. Treatment with Provenge involves leukapheresis, blood manipulation, and administration into the patient. This is an intricate and very expensive process, Mittendorf says.
A peptide is a small piece of a protein, Mittendorf says, but is large enough to be recognized by the immune system. A peptide vaccine is given as a simple subdermal shot once per month for six months, followed by booster inoculations.
If the peptide vaccine approach is proven to be efficacious, it would be cost-effective and simple to produce, making it more widely used than complex vaccine constructions. On the other hand, Mittendorf notes, peptide vaccines probably will not stimulate enough of an immune response to take care of an aggressive disease, which is why they are being investigated in the adjuvant setting.