In order to develop a vaccine, you need something to target- like a virus or bacteria. A virus called HMTV (human mammary tumor virus) is found in about 40% of breast tumors. Viruses can certainly cause cancer- look at HPV and Hepatitis B, for example. If researchers determine that HMTV causes cancer (this is yet unknown), they would have a target for vaccine development. So yes, a vaccine could be possible.
While scientists are already using personalized cancer vaccines for breast cancer patients, made from a patient’s immune cells (in the hope of preventing tumors from spreading), a true vaccine that could prevent breast cancer cases caused by a virus would be life-changing.
New grants from the National Breast Cancer Coalition and the Avon Foundation for Women will help researchers look for clues within tumor genomes. And undoubtedly, mouse models of breast cancer will be extremely important in the understanding and possible development of such a vaccine.
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