Trial vaccine wipes out the breast cancer of its first human subject


A Florida woman is celebrating her new lease of life after a trial vaccine successfully helped fight off breast cancer.

Lee Mercker has been through a lot in the past few months after she was diagnosed with a very early stage of breast cancer, DCIS stage zero. According to a TV news report, Mercker was diagnosed with breast cancer in March this year. The news left Mercker shook as she’d been leading a healthy life and the prospect of potentially meeting her end through the deadly disease was incomprehensible.

She said, “I was healthy. That’s why I was mad. I was stunned, and everyone around me was madder and more stunned. DCIS stage zero — I’d never heard of it. I’m an exercise fanatic; I eat right. But it just can knock on anybody’s door.”

When Mercker went to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to start treatment, her doctor laid out three options for her: She could go the traditional route of undergoing a lumpectomy which would remove the cancer cells, or a mastectomy where the breasts are removed. The third option was a bit more unconventional as it involved her joining a clinical trial for a vaccine that could prevent the cancer cells from coming back. “I signed on the dotted line that day,” Mercker said.

Dr. Saranya Chumsri reveals that the revolutionary vaccine helps the body fight cancer cells. “It’s supposed to stimulate a patient’s own immune response so that the immune cells like t-cells would go in and attack the cancer,” Dr. Keith Knutson revealed that the vaccine had worked exactly as they’d hoped it would, but Mercker’s recovery was groundbreaking as she was the team’s first human test subject. “We saw some evidence of elimination of the tumor, as well as some evidence of the immune system crowding in,” said Knutson.

The treatment merely involved getting a shot for 12 weeks. “They always took your blood, you had a physical, they’d make your shot right there on the spot for you. It was three shots, all in a row, alternating arms, four shots, two weeks apart,” said Mercker. Everyone involved in the trial was overjoyed when the vaccine showed positive results.

Mercker was declared cancer-free. However, she she underwent a double mastectomy in order to make sure the cancerous cells were completely out of her body since the vaccine was just a trial.

The significance of the trail’s success and her involvement in it has only just started hitting Mercker, who said, “I feel like I walked on the moon. I worked in an industry with tons of women and I saw all kinds of stories, and it’d just be really nice to stamp breast cancer out.”

Dr. Knutson revealed that they’ve begun testing the vaccine on two more patients, in addition to looking for more trial subjects. “Really, a vaccine against breast cancer and I think it’s only a matter of time myself,” he said.

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