Cancer Vaccine

Revolutionizing AML Treatment: Novel Cancer Vaccines Targeting Tumour Cells


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of blood cancer originating in the bone marrow, often attacking white blood cells crucial for the body's immune defense. In a study published in Blood Advances, researchers from the UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering’s Hubbell Lab introduced a novel approach to creating in-situ cancer vaccines, potentially enhancing immunotherapies' efficacy against AML and other blood cancers.

Professor Jeffrey Hubbell, leading the study, aims to develop cancer vaccine strategies that are versatile and scalable, catering to a range of cancers. Their research focuses on leveraging vaccines' preventive mechanism, exposing a small portion of the pathogen—usually a protein—to the immune system, priming immune cells to combat incoming pathogens.

Though vaccines are typically associated with preventing pathogenic diseases, they also hold promise in targeting abnormal changes within the body, such as cancer cells. These therapeutic vaccines aim to activate the immune system to recognize and eliminate existing cancer cells. Anna Slezak, a doctoral candidate and lead author of the paper, highlights the challenge in distinguishing cancer cells from healthy tissue, hindering immune responses.

Traditionally, identifying target proteins for cancer vaccines involves labor-intensive processes like sequencing tumor samples. However, the Hubbell Lab's approach capitalizes on a unique trait of tumor cells—unpaired cysteine molecules on their surfaces due to metabolic dysregulation. By attaching an adjuvant to target these cysteines, the tumor cell itself becomes the vaccine when injected into the bloodstream.

Their construct includes mannose to facilitate antigen-presenting cell trafficking and a Toll-like receptor-7 (TLR-7) agonist to activate the immune system. Combining this vaccine delivery with low-dose cytarabine chemotherapy significantly increased survival rates in AML mice models.

The Hubbell Lab's pioneering approach offers a promising avenue in cancer immunotherapy, eliminating the need for targeting antibodies and potentially benefiting various hematological malignancies. Future research will delve into refining vaccine chemistry to optimize outcomes in cancer treatments, though further preclinical studies are essential before clinical trials can commence.
Back to blog
1 of 3