Medical researchers at the Malaghan Institute in Wellington are hoping to develop a vaccine that can target the tumours found in breast cancer.
The immunotherapy vaccine programme is being funded by the New Zealand Breast Cancer Research Trust at the institute, at Victoria University.
A project leader, Dr Melanie McConnell, says the aim is to target cells within cancerous tumours that are resistant to standard treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
She says team members are confident of identifying these cells, but still have to prove they can manipulate the immune system to target tumours.
The Wellington-based project has a three-year timetable.