Is a 100-Percent Effective Breast Cancer Vaccine in the Works?

"I think the potential is excellent. Let the vaccine speak for itself. As an expert, I know it has great potential."

Dr. Kathleen Ruddy, courtesy of the subject

Every October, we at Marie Claire are honored to cover National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) in ways that will resonate with our readers. From in-depth beauty tricks from a breast cancer survivor to stylish clothing picks benefitting the cause, we work hard to annually bring you the best BCAM coverage. But in addition to relevant beauty and fashion tips, it never hurts to discuss some potentially world-changing good news, too.

At last week's Clinton Global Initiative dinner, we met a pretty incredible woman named Dr. Kathleen Ruddy who told us, what we had previously assumed, was the impossible: that she has been an expert advocate for a breast cancer vaccine. Dr. Ruddy, a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer, is a busy woman — she has more than 6,000 patients, and she also created the Breast Health & Healing Foundation to find the causes of breast cancer while also preventing the disease. Has Dr. Ruddy learned of a 100-percent effective preventative vaccine? The short-winded answer, according to Dr. Ruddy, is yes.

On Sept. 17, 2013, a group called Cleveland Clinic Innovations announced that it plans to bring forward a preventative breast cancer vaccine (developed by the Clinic in 2010), to the FDA to begin clinical trials to see if it is safe and effective for use in women. But things are looking good: The vaccine was shown to be completely safe and 100-percent effective in preventing breast cancer in three animal models, and was also found to slow the growth of tumors that had already formed. Not to mention, the vaccine has been found to be especially powerful in inhibiting the growth of triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease with the lowest survival rate. These are the women whom Dr. Ruddy describes as "just waiting to die."

"A vaccine can't get any better than 100-percent than coming out of the lab, but I'm of course aware that not everything that works in mice works in women," said Dr. Ruddy. "I think the potential is excellent. Let the vaccine speak for itself. As an expert, I know it has great potential."

Dr. Ruddy also proposes, given the global burden of breast cancer, to fast-track this vaccine through the FDA in a similar way that AIDS drugs were done in the 1980s. But the statistics look good: In the past 10 years, 300 fast-track applications have been made to the FDA, and more than 90-percent of them have been fast-tracked.

Does Dr. Ruddy, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974, have something magical, something life-changing here? Maybe. But in the meantime, the vaccine does provide one thing for certain: hope.