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expert reaction to paper reporting progress towards a potential universal cancer vaccine

The production of vaccines towards tumours has so far been relatively unsuccessful but a paper published in the journal Nature has reported some progress by using genetic components of the tumour cells combined with nanoparticles to produce an immune response.


Prof. Alan Melcher, Professor of Translational Immunotherapy, The Institute of Cancer Research, and Honorary Consultant Oncologist at The Royal Marsden said:

“Immunotherapy for cancer is a rapidly evolving and exciting field. This new study, in mice and a small number of patients, shows that an immune response against the antigens within a cancer can be triggered by a new type of cancer vaccine.

“This vaccine is given into the blood, and comprises very small nanoparticules made up of fat joined to RNA (a type of genetic code for the tumour antigens). These nanoparticles target particular cells in the mice, called dendritic cells, which are key to stimulating an immune response.

“Although the research is very interesting, it is still some way away from being of proven benefit to patients. In particular, there is uncertainty around whether the therapeutic benefit seen in the mice by targeting a small number of antigens will also apply to humans, and the practical challenge of manufacturing nanoparticles for widespread clinical application.”


Systemic RNA delivery to dendritic cells exploits antiviral defence for cancer immunotherapy’ by Kranz et al. published in Nature on Wednesday 1st June. 


Declared interests

Prof. Alan Melcher: None received

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