A new immune-boosting breast cancer vaccine could help stop the disease progressing, according to new research published in Clinical Cancer Research.

The immunological treatment, trialled in the US by researchers at Florida’s Moffitt Cancer Centre, helped stimulate the immune systems of 80 per cent of women who participated, with tumours shrinking in nearly a quarter of patients, according to the report.

The vaccine uses a patient’s immune system to attack a molecule, known as the HER2 protein, which cancer cells often use to go undetected in the body while breast cancer tumours grow.

The researchers believe that by targeting HER2, the vaccine could help our immune cells recognise and destroy cancer in its early stages.

Personalised on a patients’ individual immune system, the vaccine was tested on 54 women with breast cancer. They received weekly treatment for six weeks and reported only mild side effects, such as fatigue, injection site reaction and chills. At the end of the treatment 12 women had no detectable cancer in their pathology. It was more successful in those with the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a cancer that starts in the milk ducts.

While the new treatment won’t prevent people developing breast cancer, it could help treat the disease if used in the early stages.

One in eight women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, according to Breast Cancer UK. Although much rarer, 400 men are also diagnosed with the disease each year. There were 55,222 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2014 alone.

While scientists caution that more research needs to be completed before this vaccine could become widely available, the study has been welcomed by Corrina Mottram, clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors: “Breast cancer continues to affect thousands of people every year, so any new research that could eventually lead to new treatments to help those suffering with the disease to increase their life expectancy and quality of life is welcome.

“There are still far too many people suffering with breast cancer and more has to be invested in prevention, proper diagnosis and early diagnosis of the disease. We must keep pressure on our government to ensure it provides substantial and continuous investment for the NHS, so that patients are provided with the treatment, care and medicine they need.”