Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

A Molecular Adjuvant for Cancer Immunotherapy

Technology #6869

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Researchers
Marilia Cascalho
Managed By
Janani Ramaswamy
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
US Patent Pending

At their most basic, vaccines are comprised of antigens to mount an immune response against, for instance the surface proteins of influenza, and another component (called an adjuvant) to help stimulate the desired immune response against the antigens. Vaccines have been critical to the prevention of infectious disease over the last 100 years, helping to provide protection against diseases such as diphtheria, measles, polio and several others. Vaccines continue to be essential to human health, but many potential disease targets have proven difficult to develop effective vaccines for including HIV, malaria and even cancer. Immunotherapy for cancer continues to be a key area of research and development for biotechnology companies but there are complexities associated with individual cancers and the difficulty of mounting an immune response against tumor cells. Tumors are, in a sense, self-cells and are naturally protected against normal immune responses in order to protect one’s own body from autoimmune reactions. Some cancer cells even develop additional defenses against immune recognition and removal as a result of continuous mutation. Elimination of these tumors through immunotherapies requires careful manipulation of the immune response against these cancer cells to promote the recognition and killing of unhealthy tumor cells.

New vaccine adjuvants are being actively developed as a way of customizing the immune response against specific antigens. Some diseases are better eliminated through the production of antibodies, while others require strong T cell responses to specifically kill infected or cancerous cells. New vaccine adjuvants offer the promise of being able to precisely modify the immune response to the specific disease and opens up new possibilities even for vaccines that have previously failed because the adjuvants they used were ill-suited for the disease.

New vaccine adjuvant for cancer immunotherapy

The technology is a protein-based vaccine adjuvant being developed for the treatment of cancer. The protein has been shown to be strongly immunogenic, increasing both antibody yields against antigen but also eliciting a strong T cell immune response against cancer cells. The full vaccine using this adjuvant is currently being tested in mouse models of multiple myeloma and has been shown to substantially improve survival to over 80% compared to 0% of mice surviving without treatment.

Applications

  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • New adjuvant for bacterial, viral or parasitic vaccines

Advantages

  • Promotes a strong antibody and cellular immune response
  • May improve efficacy of tumor vaccines