Cancer vaccines are designed to turn the body’s own immune system specifically against tumor cells. Particularly promising are vaccines that are directed against so-called neoantigens: These are proteins that have undergone a genetic mutation in tumor cells and, therefore, differ from their counterparts in healthy cells. The tiny alteration – sometimes only a single protein building block has been changed – gives the protein on the tumor cell surface novel immunological characteristics that can be recognized as “foreign” by the immune system’s T cells. Therapeutic vaccines using a short protein fragment, or peptide, specifically containing the mutated site can then direct immune cells specifically to the tumor.
A cancer cell displaying tumor antigens at its surface. The red dots indicate where MCH molecules and tumor antigen co-locate.
Credit: M. Platten/DKFZ
*PLA = Proximity Ligation Assay
Lukas Bunse, Theresa Schumacher, Felix Sahm, Stefan Pusch, Iris Oezen, Katharina Rauschenbach, Marina Gonzalez, Gergely Solecki, Matthias Osswald, David Capper, Benedikt Wiestler, Frank Winkler, Christel Herold-Mende, Andreas von Deimling, Wolfgang Wick and Michael Platten: Proximity ligation assay evaluates IDH1R132H presentation in gliomas. The Journal of Clinical Investigation 2015,DOI: 10.1172/JCI77780