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Vaccine-based immunotherapy of cancer

45 months
Approved budget:
Professor Ian Hermans
Health issue:
Cancer (oncology)
Proposal type:
Lay summary
It is known that white blood cells called T cells can kill tumour cells. Vaccines that induce the activity of T cells therefore hold considerable promise as new therapeutic agents. We will engage NZ leaders in the fields of immunology, chemistry, oncology and clinical-grade manufacturing, to design, manufacture, and trial new anti-cancer vaccines. We will validate the use of ""cell-based"" vaccines in which synthetic fragments from tumour-associated proteins (tumour ""peptides"") are loaded onto a patient's own stimulatory blood cells, and then injected to induce peptide-specific T cells. A clinical trial will be conducted in melanoma patients to assess whether activity of these vaccines can be enhanced by inclusion of the synthetic stimulatory compound, -galactosylceramide. Also, pre-clinical research will be undertaken to develop new cell-free vaccines incorporating peptides and -galactosylceramide. A flexible clinical-grade synthesis pipeline will be established so that this methodology can be applied to other cancers.