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Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery Research Lab
Harrison Department of Surgical Research
Brian J. Czerniecki, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Czerniecki has tested with great success a cancer vaccine for patients with early stage breast cancer. The study, which is ongoing, sheds new light on how vaccines can inhibit tumor growth, lessen the severity of the disease, and prevent its recurrence. His team investigated a potential vaccine that targets HER-2/neu over-expression in early stage breast cancer (DCIS). Over-expression of the HER-2/neu gene is linked to about 50 to 60 percent of DCIS cases, and helps predict the severity of the disease, as well as the risk of recurrence of invasive breast cancer. Cancer Research Journal Cover

By treating dendritic cells – specialized white blood cells that play a major role in activating immune response – with HER-2/neu, Dr. Czerniecki produced a vaccine he hoped would prompt an immune response. In fact, researchers found that nearly all patients exhibited an initial immune reaction to the vaccine, and half showed markedly reduced levels of HER-2/neu expression, leading to overall improvement in the severity of the disease.

Featured on the March 2007 cover of Cancer Research, this study is a source of excitement and optimism in the medical community. According to Dr. Czerniecki, these “vaccination strategies may therefore have potential for both the prevention and treatment of early breast cancer.”



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