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Priming the body’s immune system with personalized cancer vaccines

In 2014, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, six melanoma patients received infusions of an anticancer vaccine composed of their own dendritic cells. Our WashU colleagues had extracted immune cells from the patients’ blood two months earlier, cultured them in the lab, and mixed in peptides selected and synthesized based on specific mutations present in the genomes of each patient’s tumor…

This first test of personalized cancer vaccines in people grew out of our collaborative efforts to develop a computational pipeline to identify tumor-unique mutations that could induce immune responses in cancer patients, helping them to fight their diseases. … In contrast to cell-based immune therapies, which directly provide the patient with tumor-attacking T cells, the idea was that these neoantigens could be used to create vaccines that stimulate the differentiation of endogenous killer T cells.

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These results indicated that it was possible to prime the immune system to recognize nonself, cancer-specific peptides and to elicit an antitumor T cell response that targets cancer cells.

Since the publication of our personalized melanoma vaccine trial, three subsequent studies have demonstrated the potential of neoantigen-based vaccines in treating human cancers. Both academic and industry sponsors are now conducting many more such clinical trials.

Read full, original post: Personalized Cancer Vaccines in Clinical Trials

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