New cancer vaccine finds way to overcome tumour defences

Researchers have developed a new vaccine that shows promise in overriding an immune escape mechanism in cancerous tumours. They found that the vaccine offers protection against cancerous tumours in mouse and primate cancer models. They plan to enter the vaccine into clinical trials next year. Developing cancer vaccines have been an essential Trusted Source of cancer research for almost three decades.

Many formsTrusted Source of cancer vaccines are under research, including those that target proteins expressed across multiple cancer types, and those that are personalizedTrusted Source according to individual tumor mutations.

While existing vaccines can induce an immune response in blood, tumours often dodge this response via an immune escape mechanism. Targeting this mechanism may help researchers improve cancer vaccine efficacy.

In a recent study, researchers developed a new cancer vaccine that targets this immune escape mechanism and increases immune antibody levels.

How the vaccine works

Dr. Santosh Kesari, director of neuro-oncology at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, chair of the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics at Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA, and regional medical director for the Research Clinical Institute of Providence Southern California, who was not involved in the study, explained to Medical News Today how the vaccine worked.

“This new approach [t]argets this resistance mechanism by making a vaccine to a general protein that is over expressed (a stress signal) in cancers but is rapidly removed by the cancer before the immune system detects it.”
— Dr. Santosh Kesari

“The new vaccine approach prevents the cancer cell from removing this cancer-specific protein and thus allows a coordinated immune attack on the cancer by both T- cells and natural killer (NK) cells,” he said.

The researchers designed the new vaccine to target MICA and MICB stress proteins, which sit on the surface of cancer cells.

While immune cells in the body, known as T cells and NK cells, typically bind to these stress proteins in an attempt to kill cancerous cells, tumor cells can evade their attack by slicing MICA/B and shedding them.

The new vaccine prevents this slicing and thus increases stress protein expression and the activation of a dual attack from T cells and NK cells.