A new experimental vaccine is able to trick cancer in laboratory animals

A new type of cancer vaccine is able to thwart the defensive response of the tumors to the immune attack induced by it, according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature. although they are still preliminary resultsthe authors say they may pave the way for new tests to determine their clinical applicability.

Most cancer vaccines target specific cell surface proteins, that is, antigens expressed by tumor cells, which helps to immunity system to recognize them and attack them.

The vaccine, whose efficacy and safety have been tested in mice and monkeys, induces a coordinated attack by T cells and natural killer cells.

However, the nature and immunogenicity (ability to stimulate an immune response) of these antigens is unique to each individual, limiting the development of a universal drug. In addition, tumors often escape immune attack by mutating and altering antigen presentation, reducing its recognition.

Inside this job led by a team of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston (USA), the vaccine, whose efficiency s safety he was tested in mice and non-human primates (rhesus monkey), induces a coordinated attack by diverse populations of T cells and natural killer (NK) cells.

“Our vaccine continues to be effective against tumors with common resistance mutations and provokes a coordinated general attack independent of tumor antigens”, explains to SINC Kai Wucherpfennigmain author of the American center.

Keys to this new vaccine

This drug targets two types of surface proteins (MICA and MICB) whose expression increases in stressful situations. stress in various human cancers. T cells and NK cells are normally activated by binding to these stress proteins, but tumor cells can avoid this attack by cutting both of them and eliminating them.

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This vaccine, however, can prevent this cut, thus increasing the amount of stress protein expression and, consequently, facilitating the stimulation of a double attack by T and NK cells.

A clinical trial is needed to determine whether this strategy works in cancer patients.

Kai Wucherpfennig, lead author

For the researchers, these initial results reveal that this vaccine can promote protective immunity against tumors, even those with elusive mutations. yes, will be future studies needed evaluate this potential in humans.

“A clinical trial is needed to determine whether this strategy works in cancer patients,” emphasizes Wucherpfennig. “Actually, one is planned for next year and the vaccine will initially be used in people with advanced cancer who have high levels of MICA/B in their serum”, he concludes.


A vaccine targeting resistant tumors by the dual attack of T cells and NK cells. NatureDOI 10.1038/s41586-022-04772-4

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