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Immune Response Raises Breast Cancer Hopes

An Adelaide University study has found that an immune response is activated in some breast cancer patients.

“For many years breast cancer has been assumed to be ‘non-immunogenic’, meaning that the disease does not trigger a response by the body’s immune system,” said A/Prof Coventry, who presented the research at the annual conference of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

“These findings indicate that the immune response appears to be already occurring in many women with breast cancer, and that the strength of that response correlates with longer-term survival. This opens the way for therapies that can boost the ongoing immune response occurring in women with breast cancers, and is reinforced by new findings using immunotherapies, such as anti-PD1 and vaccine therapies, for breast and other cancers.

“It may even then be possible to switch on the immune response in women with breast cancer to transform a weak immune response into a more effective one for clinical benefit, like we have shown with melanoma and other cancers,” Coventry said.