Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Another day, another ground-breaking discovery!

If you read the papers or watched the news over the weekend you would think that everyone at Breast Cancer Campaign is busy working on how we close down the charity because no more research is needed. We are moments away from a vaccine to prevent breast cancer.

OK – that is an exaggeration – but not much. “Jab ‘to prevent breast cancer’ may be trialled on women in a year: A revolutionary jab that could prevent and treat breast cancer has been developed”.

As with all these things the reality is quite a bit further from what was printed. I won’t attempt to deal with the science of this, and I am sure that our scientists will have a lot to say about it, but while the research itself is interesting we are not facing a vaccine for breast cancer any time soon. For the non-scientific I think that the article by Dr Mark Porter in today’s Times put it very well.

The breast cancer vaccine is great news — for mice genetically prone to the disease.

UK researchers are generally more restrained in their claims but US researchers are less so, possibly for the reasons Porter outlines.

It isn’t that simple – one of the biggest advances in treatment in the past few years – Herceptin – only works for about 25 per cent of breast cancers. As Dennis Slamon, the scientist whose work over 20 years ago led to the development of Herceptin says, “the only thing that breast cancers have in common is the organ of the body in which they occur”. It isn’t one disease, there won’t be one cure or one way of preventing it, and one drug or new breakthrough won’t fit all.

No comments:

Post a Comment