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Researchers generate immunity against tumor vessel protein
Date:4/25/2014

PHILADELPHIA - Sometimes a full-on assault isn't the best approach when dealing with a powerful enemy. A more effective approach, in the long run, may be to target the support system replenishing the supplies that keep your foe strong and ready for battle. A group of researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is pursuing this strategy by employing a novel DNA vaccine to kill cancer, not by attacking tumor cells, but targeting the blood vessels that keep them alive. The vaccine also indirectly creates an immune response to the tumor itself, amplifying the attack by a phenomenon called epitope spreading. The results of the study were published this month in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Previous studies have targeted tumor angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels that feed the tumor cells). However, this approach can also interfere with normal processes involved in wound healing and development. Penn researchers avoided this pitfall by designing a DNA vaccine that specifically targets TEM1 (tumor endothelial marker 1), a protein that is overexpressed in tumors and poorly expressed in normal tissues.

"We demonstrated that by targeting TEM1, our vaccine can decrease tumor vascularization, increase hypoxia of the tumor and reduce tumor growth," says Andrea Facciabene, PhD, research assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a faculty member in the Ovarian Cancer Research Center at Penn Medicine. "Our results confirm that we were directly targeting the tumor vasculature and also indirectly killing tumor cells through epitope spreading."

The Penn team injected mice with a DNA fusion vaccine called TEM1-TT, created by fusing TEM1 complementary DNA with a fragment of the tetanus toxoid (TT). In mouse models of three cancer types (breast, colon, and cervical), tumor formation was delayed or prevented in mice vaccinated with the TEM1-TT DNA
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Contact: Katie Delach
katie.delach@uphs.upenn.edu
215-776-6063
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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