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Novel cancer vaccine holds promise against ovarian cancer, mesothelioma
Date:3/5/2014

A novel approach to cancer immunotherapy strategies designed to induce the immune system to attack cancer cells may provide a new and cost-effective weapon against some of the most deadly tumors, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Investigators from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center report in the Journal of Hematology & Oncology that a protein engineered to combine a molecule targeting a tumor-cell-surface antigen with another protein that stimulates several immune functions prolonged survival in animal models of both tumors.

"Some approaches to creating cancer vaccines begin by extracting a patient's own immune cells, priming them with tumor antigens and returning them to the patient, a process that is complex and expensive," says Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center and senior author of the report. "Our study describes a very practical, potentially broadly applicable and low-cost approach that could be used by oncologists everywhere, not just in facilities able to harvest and handle patient's cells."

The MGH team's vaccine stimulates the patient's own dendritic cells, a type of immune cell that monitors an organism's internal environment for the presence of viruses or bacteria, ingests and digests pathogens encountered, and displays antigens from those pathogens on their surface to direct the activity of other immune cells. As noted above, existing cancer vaccines that use dendritic cells require extracting cells from a patient's blood, treating them with an engineered protein or nucleic acid that combines tumor antigens with immune-stimulating molecules, and returning the activated dendritic cells to the patient.

The approach developed by the MGH team starts with the engineered protein, which in this case fuses an antibody fragment targeting a protein called mesothelin expressed on the surface of such tumors as mesothelioma,
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Contact: Katie Marquedant
kmarquedant@partners.org
617-726-0337
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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Novel cancer vaccine holds promise against ovarian cancer, mesothelioma
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