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New strategy produces promising advance in cancer vaccines
Date:2/16/2010

Researchers at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine have used a new strategy to develop cancer vaccines that are remarkably effective in mice. In the February 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Kimberly Jordan, PhD, Jill Slansky, PhD, and John Kappler, PhD, report that 100 percent of the mice vaccinated with a peptide they developed remained alive and tumor-free for at least 60 days after inoculation with colon cancer cells. The research suggests a method for developing vaccines against a wide variety of cancers.

"We developed a peptide vaccine that binds strongly to naturally occurring T cells and stimulates them to vigorously attack cancer cells in mice," said Dr. Slansky, Associate Professor in the Integrated Immunology Department at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "We can't guarantee that the vaccines we developed will make it to human trials, but our work does show that very effective cancer vaccines can be made, and outlines a new strategy for their development."

T cells are one of the prime sentinels of the immune system, which sound the alarm and help orchestrate the immune response. Ever since scientists found T cells inside tumors, they realized that the body does have a natural, albeit mild, immunity to cancer. The T cells inside tumors recognize antigens on the surfaces of tumor cells, but don't bind them strongly enough to sound an alarm or initiate a robust immune response.

Scientists have tried several strategies to stimulate those T cells, from general immune stimulants to synthetic variations on the naturally occurring antigens. Although some of the vaccines showed moderate results in animal models, none has proven effective in humans.

Dr. Slansky hypothesized that previous vaccine candidates were unsuccessful because they did not bind strongly enough to the T cells found inside tumors. As a resu
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Contact: Adam Dormuth
dormutha@njhealth.org
303-398-1082
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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