New vaccine proves promising for tough cancer tumours

Date:13 November 2020 Author: Leila Stein

A new biomaterial-based cancer vaccine aims to combine the approaches of chemotherapy and immunotherapy to help tackle difficult cancers.

Research by scientists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute found their vaccine successfully treated triple-negative breast cancer in mice.

“Triple-negative breast cancer does not stimulate strong responses from the immune system, and existing immunotherapies have failed to treat it. In our system, the immunotherapy attracts numerous immune cells to the tumor while the chemotherapy produces a large number of dead cancer cell fragments that the immune cells can pick up and use to generate an effective tumor-specific response,” said co-first author Hua Wang, Ph.D., a former Postdoc and Technology Development Fellow at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

The team decided to work off of previous interest in injectable cancer vaccines which combined molecules found in cancerous cells called tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) with adjuvants inside the aspirin-sized scaffold so that arriving dendritic cells could recognize them as “foreign” and mount an immune response targeted against the tumor.

They took this premise and applied it to TNBC in mice.

“The team’s newest version of their cancer vaccine is a novel multifunctional anticancer therapy that offers new hope for the treatment of a wide range of cancers. It is essentially an entirely new form of combination chemotherapy that can be administered through a single injection and potentially offer greater efficacy with much lower toxicity than conventional treatments used today,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. Ingber.

Picture: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

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