Scientists at Tel Aviv University investigated a vaccine for melanoma, the fastest-growing skin cancer.
Melanoma is the cancer of melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin or skin pigment. There are several treatment options for melanoma, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. Researchers from Tel Aviv University have developed a new approach – a vaccine using immunotherapy as treatment. Immunotherapy is a treatment that boosts the body’s own immune response. With immunotherapy, there can be severe side effects, poor response, and the development of drug resistance. It is for this reason, more clinical trials and research are needed.
Immunotherapy vaccine research
The scientists combined the new vaccine with antibodies and tested the treatment in mice. Anti-PD-1 antibody was used to prevent suppression of the immune system response (immunosuppression) and anti-OXO antibody was used to stimulate and increase the number and life span of immune cells called T cells. The combination led to increased efficacy in treating melanoma but no additional inhibition on tumour growth, as compared to treatment with the antibodies alone. However, when the new vaccine and antibodies were combined with ibrutinib (a drug that inhibits immunosuppression), there was a significant decrease in the intensity of melanoma and prolonged survival.
Benefits of the vaccine
The vaccine, along with immunotherapy, proved to be effective in delaying the progression of melanoma. The vaccine for melanoma had prophylactic benefits too. In addition, the mice treated with the vaccine did not develop melanoma. Nevertheless, it proved successful when tried on tissues obtained from patients with melanoma cells spread to their brains.
The vaccine for melanoma is a promising treatment for many people suffering from this aggressive disease. This study is an innovative scientific advancement, highlighting a new concept to prevent and treat cancers. In the words of Prof. Satchi-Fainaro, “Our research opens the door to a completely new approach, the vaccine approach, for effective treatment of melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the disease. We believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines.”
- Conniot J, Scomparin A, Peres C, et al. Immunization with mannosylated nanovaccines and inhibition of the immune-suppressing microenvironment sensitizes melanoma to immune checkpoint modulators. Nat Nanotechnol. 2019;14(9):891-901. doi:10.1038/s41565-019-0512-0
2. Hunka G. Tel Aviv University scientists develop novel nano-vaccine for melanoma. EurekAlert! August 5, 2019. Accessed August 8, 2019. https://sciencesources.eurekalert.org/news-releases/846983.