Identify the best anti-tumour T cell responses to optimise future vaccine

Project Description

This project explores the role of a group of molecules on cancer cell surface that display fragmented cancer proteins to the specific killer T cells. The results will potentially lead to better vaccine approaches incorporating individual cancer patients' genetic information.

Most tumour cells express tumour-specific proteins. Killer T cells suppress and eliminate tumour cells by recognising fragments (epitopes) derived from these tumour proteins. For some poorly understood reasons, these cells can either fail to activate or be rendered irresponsive during tumour genesis.

A major goal of cancer vaccine is to either activate these T cells or reverse their unresponsiveness. Killer T cells cannot function without "helper" T cells. Helper T cells improve the ability of killer T cells to recognise and to kill cancer cells. Anti-cancer vaccines have previously focused on stimulating killer T cells tending to ignore the role of helper T cells, which may explain the ineffective outcomes to date. Vaccines that stimulate both killer and helper T cells may be superior.

Moreover, many of the T cell targets identified so far might not represent the best targets for the immune system. In this project, we will concentrate on one of the most promising target proteins (NY-ESO-1), which is found in many different tumour types but not normal tissues.

Using a systematic approach we will firstly identify the relevant immune responses either from patients with natural anti-NY-ESO-1 immunity or from patients whose anti-NY-ESO-1 responses were stimulated by vaccination. We will then be able to rank the targets according to the intensity of their T cell responses. Potentially this will enable us to design vaccines tailored to individual patients.

Identify the best anti-tumour T cell responses to optimize future vaccine

This project explores the role of a group of molecules on cancer cell surface that display fragmented cancer proteins to the specific killer T cells. The results will potentially lead to better vaccine approaches incorporating individual cancer patients' genetic information.

Year

2006-2008

Researchers

Dr Weisan Chen

Institution

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

Award / Duration

Research Grant: 2006-2008

Funding

$70,000 per annum for 3 years

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