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Technique brings immune-based therapies closer to reality

y patients simply can't provide the number of dendritic cells needed to get a vaccine that would work."

The aAPCs made by the Hopkins team created twice as many specific, targeted CTLs as using dendritic cells, and could have made even more, says Oelke, who researched dendritic cell-derived CTLs in Germany. Both aAPCs and dendritic cells convert generic immune cells in the blood into targeted CTLs.

The aAPCs were made using a protein called HLA-Ig, which in 1998 Schneck showed could mimic the antigen-waving ability of dendritic cells. In the latest research, Oelke turned tiny magnetic beads into aAPCs by coating them with HLA-Ig and another protein that stimulates cell growth and exposing the beads to antigens from either melanoma or cytomegalovirus.

"Using the aAPCs, we were able to make a tremendous amount of CTLs while maintaining their specificity," says Schneck. "Losing specificity as CTL numbers rise has been a problem with other techniques."

Before aAPCs could be used to make CTLs for testing in patients, the production method must be modified to produce clinical grade cells, a process Oelke suggests could take two to four years.

Authors on the report are Oelke, Schneck and Dominic Didiano of Johns Hopkins; Marcela Maus and Carl June of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania; and Andreas Mackensen of the University of Regensburg, Germany. The Johns Hopkins researchers were funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Dr. Mildred-Scheel-Stiftung Deutsche Krebshilfe Foundation.

Under a licensing agreement between Pharmingen and the Johns Hopkins University, Schneck is entitled to a share of royalty received by the University on sales of products related to technology described in this article. Schneck is a paid consultant to Pharmingen. The terms of this arrangement are being managed by The Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of int
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Contact: Joanna Downer
jdowner1@jhmi.edu
410-614-5105
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
22-Apr-2003


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