May 21, 2024
Vaccines with Immune-enhancing

Boosting Cancer Immunotherapy: UCLA Researchers Unveil the Power of Combining Personalized Vaccines with Immune-enhancing Agent

UCLA Health Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have made a significant breakthrough in the treatment of malignant gliomas, an aggressive and fast-growing brain tumor, by pairing a personalized dendritic cell vaccine with the immune-enhancing substance poly-ICLC. The study, published in Nature Communications, reveals that this combination therapy amplifies the immune response and T cell activity, enhancing the dendritic cells’ ability to combat brain tumors more effectively than the vaccine alone.

Malignant gliomas are notoriously difficult to treat due to their infiltrative nature and location in the brain, often resulting in a poor prognosis for patients. Robert Prins, a professor of molecular and Basal Insulin Market medical pharmacology and neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and co-senior author of the study, explains, “By improving the potency of the vaccine, we hope it can induce more effective anti-tumor immune responses in patients diagnosed with malignant gliomas.”

The dendritic cell vaccine, developed at UCLA, utilizes a patient’s own white blood cells to stimulate the immune system against cancer. Dendritic cells, which typically identify foreign invaders, are combined with brain tumor protein antigens derived from surgically removed tumors and dendritic immune cells generated from the patient’s blood. The dendritic cells educate the immune system to recognize and attack tumor cells when reintroduced into the patient.

Despite the vaccine’s potential, not all patients respond positively. To amplify the anti-tumor immune response, researchers explored the addition of toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists to the vaccine. TLR agonists bind and activate dendritic cells and macrophages, alerting the immune system to foreign pathogens. By activating these TLRs on dendritic cells, the UCLA team hypothesized that the combination might increase the frequency and infiltration of antitumor specific T cells, while reducing the suppressive capacity of the tumor microenvironment.

The team tested two different TLR agonists—poly-ICLC and resiquimod—to determine which one would be safer and more effective in conjunction with the vaccine. The study enrolled 23 patients, ranging from 26- to 72-years-old, with WHO Grade III-IV glioma, who were randomized to receive either poly-ICLC, resiquimod, or a placebo in addition to the personalized DC vaccine.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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