Research highlight

Rethinking cancer vaccines to improve efficacy

Nature Medicine

March 4, 2013

The limited success that cancer vaccine therapies have in eliminating tumors in patients may be due to their formulation. These findings in a mouse model of melanoma, published this week in Nature Medicine, could have implications for vaccine therapy development in general.

Willem Overwijk and colleagues show that peptide antigens formulated in a water in oil emulsion to induce melanoma-specific immune responses sequester T cells at the site of injection in mice-instead of inducing their recruitment to the tumor site-leading to T cell dysfunction and eventually apoptosis. A peptide and adjuvant formulation that did not persist at the injection site for long periods of time showed superior ability to induce a functional antitumor T cell response. The results suggest that whereas some vaccine adjuvants impair the efficacy of vaccines, formulations that are more rapidly degraded may improve clinical results by preventing retention of T cells at the injection site and redirecting T cells to sites of disease.

doi: 10.1038/nm.3105

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