JACKSONVILLE (FOX 13) - It's a dream many parents would welcome for their children: A vaccine that could prevent breast, ovarian and some lung cancers. It's also the dream of immunology professor Dr. Keith Knutson.
"The hope is we can develop vaccines before the development of cancer much in the way that we use a polio vaccine or a flu vaccine," Dr. Knutson told us in in his Mayo Clinic Jacksonville laboratory.
He's says although he's getting closer to realizing that dream, he'll first need to test the vaccine in patients fighting triple-negative breast and ovarian cancers.
"After individuals have been treated, we should start boosting their host immune defenses while there's no disease on board so that they're empowered if the tumor starts to come back."
It's called TPIV 200. It works by teaching the body's immune system T cells to recognize cancers as the enemy.
"Tumor cells definitely have ways that they hide from the immune response, evade the immune response. This particular strategy boosts the immune cells to high enough levels so actually when the tumors do start to grow back, there's enough of them there that they can outrace potentially or beat out the growth of the tumor cells," he explained.
Glynn Wilson -- CEO of TapImmune, makers of TPIV200 -- says,the drug has been in clinical trials since 2012 and is now in phase II trials at multiple sites.
Although there is more work to be done, Wilson believes the results are encouraging.
"The vaccine was safe and well tolerated, but more importantly, we saw robust T cell responses. It's a robust and long acting response, the type of response we like to see," Wilson said.
Because of the need for new cancer therapies for triple-negative breast cancer and ovarian cancers, the FDA's allowing them to fast track the drug. It's being used alongside other traditional treatments like chemotherapy.
"Patients may respond better to other therapies after chemotherapy, such as immunotherapy, because the chemo, because of the cell breakdown of the cells that are killed, may stimulate the immune therapy even more," he explained.
They hope this lab-derived stimulation will put cancer in its place.
"It's kind of an interesting idea that we could prevent the development of breast cancer if you gave it to all women, and that's something we look forward to in the future," Knutson added.
It could take more than a decade to realize a future without breast cancer, but these researchers believe it's within reach.
Below is a list of links to information regarding clinical trials:
-Ovarian Cancer (closed) Moffitt: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02317705?term=FOLATE+RECEPTOR+ALPHA&state1=NA%3AUS%3AFL&rank=1
-Mayo Clinic Jacksonville - Triple Negative Breast Cancer: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03012100?term=FOLATE+RECEPTOR+ALPHA&state1=NA%3AUS%3AFL&rank=2
-Moffitt - Triple Negative Breast Cancer: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02593227?term=FOLATE+RECEPTOR+ALPHA&state1=NA%3AUS%3AFL&rank=4
-Triple negative breast cancer: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02593227?term=FOLATE+RECEPTOR+ALPHA&state1=NA%3AUS%3AFL&rank=4