PITTSBURGH, Nov. 5 Results from a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, and featured on the journals cover, demonstrate that the protein cyclin B1 is a newly identified tumor antigen that holds promise as a candidate for the development of a cancer vaccine. The new antigen will be used in future cancer vaccine trials for breast cancer, lung cancer and head and neck cancer, according to Olivera Finn, Ph.D., co-author of the study, professor of molecular genetics and biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and leader of the immunology program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
We are very excited about this discovery. Identifying new tumor antigens that elicit strong responses by the immune system is imperative for the success of tumor-specific immunotherapy, said Dr. Finn. If we can use a patients own immune system to recognize and attack existing cancer cells and prevent future tumors from developing, we are closer to finding a more effective and less toxic treatment for cancer and to possibly preventing certain types of cancer.
In the study, cells of the immune system from healthy donors were exposed to dendritic cells generated in vitro (outside the body) that contained peptides from a breast cancer cell line. Dendritic cells are referred to as the pacemakers of the immune system they are the first cells to recognize and process antigens. Antigens are substances that cause the immune system to make a specific immune response by producing antibodies and killer T cells. When the researchers examined the immune responses that were generated, they determined that their target was a fragment derived from cyclin B1, a protein that regulates cell growth and proliferation. They also found that cyclin B1 was over-expressed in breast and lung cancer cells, as well as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, but not in normal cells, indicating that it is a tumor antigen.
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Contact: Clare Collins
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
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