Kristen Radford, a professor at Australia’s University of Queensland is leading a scientific research team that's developing the next generation of therapeutic cancer vaccines. Their vaccine, which showed promising results in preclinical trials, has hit a new milestone as the team now plans to test its efficacy in human clinical trials.
According to Radford, this experimental vaccine has immense potential in treating a wide spectrum of malignancies. "We are hoping this vaccine could be used to treat blood cancers, such as myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and pediatric leukemias, plus solid malignancies including breast, lung, renal, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers, and glioblastoma," she said.
The vaccine is a chimera, made up of human antibodies that are genetically fused to a tumor-specific protein called Wilms’ tumor 1, or WT1. The WT1 protein is one of the most studied tumor-associated antigens, meaning that the presence of WT1 on tumors can flag down circulating immune cells to target and destroy the cancerous cells. Due to its high immunogenicity, WT1 is a prime target for therapeutic cancer vaccine development.
Vaccines can train the immune system to recognize and eliminate invading pathogens and malignant cells. There are currently two types of cancer vaccines, ones that either prevent cancer development or vaccines that are applied therapeutically to wipe out residual tumors after therapy and prevent cancer from recurring. Most of the therapeutic vaccines are still in development and not widely available outside of a clinical trial setting.
Radford and colleagues believe that this new cancer vaccine has an edge over other similar treatments in development.
Speaking on these advantages, she commented, "First, it can be produced as an 'off the shelf' clinical-grade formulation, which circumvents the financial and logistical issues associated with patient-specific vaccines."
"Secondly, this prototype vaccine targets the key tumor cells required for the initiation of tumor-specific immune responses, thereby maximizing the potential effectiveness of treatment, while minimizing potential side effects.”
“We are very happy to see our research published in a prestigious journal, and we hope our continued work towards finding a safe and effective cancer vaccine will benefit cancer patients in the future,” added Radford, whose study has recently been published in the highly ranked journal, Clinical and Translational Immunology.