New vaccine helps kill cancer cells in patient with breast cancer

Patient in hospital (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  — The Mayo Clinic tested a new vaccine in clinical trials and found that it effectively helped to remove cancer cells, WTLV reports.

Lee Mercker learned she had breast cancer in March.

“I’m an exercise fanatic, I eat right,” Mercker said. “But it just can knock on anybody’s door.”

Now she’s the first person to participate in the Mayo Clinic’s trials.

After learning she had DCIS stage zero, which is an extremely early stage, and that the cancer cells in her breast hadn’t spread yet, she was facing three options:

She could have the cancer cells removed by getting a lumpectomy, she could get a mastectomy and have her breasts removed or she could sign up for a clinical trial for the possibly life-saving vaccine.

Mercker didn’t hesitate to join the 12-week clinical trial process.

“It’s supposed to stimulate a patient’s own immune response so that the immune cells like t-cells would go in and attack the cancer,” said Dr. Saranya Chumsri.

Mercker says the trial worked for her.

“They always took your blood, you had a physical…“It was three shots, all in a row, alternating arms, four shots, two weeks apart,” Mercker said.

Mercker did have to have a mastectomy because Chumsri says it was the only way for doctors to know everything was properly removed and they can now study the removed tissue to better understand how the vaccine works.

Chumsri says the vaccine is meant to be as easy to administer as possible.

“It’s supposed to be just off the shelf, kind of similar to when you get the flu shot or pneumonia shot,” Chumsri said.

Researchers are currently testing the vaccine on a second patient who is reportedly reacting well.

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