[Source: Kate Nolan, The Arizona Republic] — An Arizona mission to invent the first preventive cancer vaccine is being armed by the U.S. Department of Defense. Dr. Stephen Johnston won a five-year, $7.5 million “Innovator Award” from the Defense Department’s Breast Cancer Research Program, according to an announcement planned today by Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and Mayo Clinic. The grant supports efforts toward a breast-cancer vaccine by 15 researchers at MAC5, a partnership between Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and ASU in Tempe.
Researchers plan to use common proteins among breast cancers to vaccinate against attacking cancer cells. No cancer vaccines exist. However, the HPV vaccine prevents an infectious disease related to cervical cancer.”Now I can concentrate more on science than raising money,” said Johnston, director of the institute’s Center for Innovations in Medicine. A growing view that cancer research has not been innovative enough, may have positively influenced the Defense Department’s decision, Johnston said.”Conceptually, this idea is out far enough that we’re not sure it will work,” Johnston said, adding that the venture could lead to a vaccine against all major cancers.The research team includes Dr. Laurence Miller, director of research at Mayo , and Dr. Richard Smith, chief scientist at Pacific Northwest National Labs in Richland, Wash.