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Synthetic vaccines that exploit the innate immune response

39 months
Approved budget:
Professor Ian Hermans
Health issue:
Cancer (oncology)
Proposal type:
Lay summary
Cancer is the leading cause of death in New Zealand. Many cancers respond well to initial treatment, but relapse months or years later. Vaccinating patients against their own cancers may reduce this risk by stimulating the immune system to destroy cancer cells. To be effective, vaccines must contain compounds called adjuvants, which provoke strong responses by providing a general stimulus to the immune system. We are developing cancer vaccines with new adjuvants that activate white blood cells called 'innate-like T cells'. We will produce and test vaccines comprised of adjuvants that are chemically linked to fragments of proteins displayed by tumours. We will test the ability of these vaccines to stimulate immune responses against the tumour proteins using human blood cells, and test their ability to prevent tumour growth in models of cancer. This research may lead to new types of cancer vaccine for investigation in our future clinical trials.