T Cells That Recognize HER2 Teceptor May Prevent HER2+ Breast Cancer Recurrence

“Recurrence of HER2-positive breast cancer after treatment may be due to a specific and possibly cancer-induced weakness in the patient’s immune system—a weakness that in principle could be corrected with a HER2-targeted vaccine—according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Results of the study show that T cells from patients whose breast cancer had recently recurred showed far weaker response to the HER2 receptor protein, compared to T cells from patients whose breast cancer had not recurred over a long period following treatment. The study, published in JAMA Oncology this week, suggests that patients with HER2-positive breast cancer—which accounts for roughly 20 percent of the 260,000 invasive breast cancers diagnosed in the US each year—might someday undergo immune status monitoring with blood tests before, during and after treatment, to allow physicians to gauge the risk of recurrence, and possibly to reduce that risk with therapies that boost anti-HER2 immunity.”