A group of Cleveland Clinic researchers are working to create a vaccine that may be able to help prevent breast cancer.
"What we're trying to do is what a lot of people thought was impossible," said Dr. Vince Tuohy with the Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Tuohy of the Cleveland Clinic has spent 11 years designing a vaccine for breast cancer.
"What I thought was, why can't we prevent the disease? Why can't we go on defense and actually use our immune system to protect us from developing the disease, breast cancer, in the same way that we use our immune system to protect us from developing childhood infectious diseases, like polio and measles," said Dr. Tuohy.
To further develop the new vaccine, Cleveland Clinic Innovations has created a company called Shield Bio-tech.
"What we wanted to do here in my program at the Cleveland Clinic is to develop a way of stimulating the immune system. It's there to keep you healthy, but we have to stimulate it, so that it has the direction it needs to prevent the development of these adult onset diseases like breast cancer," said Dr. Tuohy.
The next step for the vaccine is to get permission from the FDA to test it in women. That will take at least two years. Once it's approved for trials, Dr. Tuohy says the drug will be about 10 years away from the marketplace.
“We'll back at this time as a time when, ‘Oh that's when they didn't have the breast cancer vaccine' in the same way we look back in the 1940s and 1950s as the time they didn't have the polio vaccine,” said Dr. Tuohy. “I really believe that this has a very, very good chance of working and the only foolish thing I think we can do is not try it."
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and is the second leading cause of death among women.