Melanoma Neoantigen Vaccine Shows Strong Antitumor Response

Source: GEN, July 2017

While possibly not the most pleasant topic to discuss while on holiday, cancer and especially melanoma are becoming omnipresent topics among worshipers of the sun and shade alike. Now, a new study from investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard shows that a personal cancer treatment vaccine that targets distinctive neoantigens on tumor cells can stimulate a potent, safe, and highly specific immune antitumor response in melanoma patients.

Findings from the new study “provides proof-of-principle that a personal vaccine tailored to a patient’s tumor can be produced and generates highly specific responses to that patient’s tumor after vaccination,” explained senior study investigator Catherine Wu, M.D., associate professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The study results were published recently in Nature in an article entitled “An Immunogenic Personal Neoantigen Vaccine for Patients with Melanoma.”

Antigens are molecules that are displayed on the surface of cells and stimulate the immune system. Neoantigens are molecules on cell surfaces that are produced by DNA mutations present in cancer cells but not in normal cells, making neoantigens ideal targets for immune therapy against cancer, say the scientists. The vaccines used in the Phase I trial reported contained up to 20 neoantigens derived from an individual patient’s tumor. The vaccines were administered to patients to train their immune system to recognize these neoantigens, with the goal of stimulating the immune system to destroy the cancer cells that display them.

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