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Self-assembling therapeutic nanovaccines for cancer

24 months
Approved budget:
Dr Benjamin Compton
Dr Lisa Connor
Health issue:
Cancer (oncology)
Proposal type:
Explorer Grant
Lay summary
Cancer immunotherapy works by assisting the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells specifically. Although immunotherapy has been extremely successful for treating a wide range of malignancies, many tumours remain unresponsive or minimally responsive to these treatments. Therapeutic vaccines targeting tumour-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs) have the potential to treat refractory tumours. However, inducing robust immune responses to TACAs typically involves attaching multiple copies of the TACA to immunogenic protein-based carriers. Hurdles facing this type of vaccine technology include poor overall conjugation yields, batch variability due to inconsistent conjugation, immunogenic interference arising from the linker and/or carrier unit, and the requirement of an external adjuvant. To overcome these limitations, we will develop a vaccine technology that mimics the physical and immunological advantages of the carrier but is devoid of the protein core. Here, we will create fully synthetic, self-adjuvanting, self-assembling nanovaccines and assess their potential as an anticancer therapy.