Scientists are developing immunological therapies that trigger a response by a patient’s immune system against the cancer. The purpose of this study is to determine the highest dose of an immunotherapy called HER2/neu immunization that can be given safely, and to see if this preparation can stimulate an immune response in women with breast cancer that has metastasized (spread) or has a high risk of metastasizing.
Antigens are targets for immune cells. If an immune cell recognizes an antigen on a tumor cell, it may help to trigger a reaction against the tumor. The immunization prepared for this clinical trial targets an antigen called the HER2 protein, which is over-produced by some breast cancer cells.
The injection used in this study is a piece of DNA (genetic material) made in bacteria which contain the gene for rat HER2.