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Immunology. 2002 Sep;107(1):39-45.

Insight into the potential for DNA idiotypic fusion vaccines designed for patients by analysing xenogeneic anti-idiotypic antibody responses.

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  • 1Cattedra e U.O. di Ematologia, Ospedale A. Sclavo, Università di Siena, Italy.


DNA vaccines induce immune responses against encoded proteins, and have clear potential for cancer vaccines. For B-cell tumours, idiotypic (Id) immunoglobulin encoded by the variable region genes provides a target antigen. When assembled as single chain Fv (scFv), and fused to an immunoenhancing sequence from tetanus toxin (TT), DNA fusion vaccines induce anti-Id antibodies. In lymphoma models, these antibodies have a critical role in mediating protection. For application to patients with lymphoma, two questions arise: first, whether pre-existing antibody against TT affects induction of anti-scFv antibodies; second, whether individual human scFv fusion sequences are able to fold consistently to generate antibodies able to recognize private conformational Id determinants expressed by tumour cells. Using xenogeneic vaccination with scFv sequences from four patients, we have shown that pre-existing anti-TT immunity slows, but does not prevent, anti-Id antibody responses. To determine folding, we have monitored the ability of nine DNAscFv-FrC patients' vaccines to induce xenogeneic anti-Id antibodies. Antibodies were induced in all cases, and were strikingly specific for each patient's immunoglobulin with little cross-reactivity between patients, even when similar VH or VL genes were involved. Blocking experiments with human serum confirmed reactivity against private determinants in 26-97% of total antibody. Both immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgG2a subclasses were present at 1.3 : 1-15 : 1 consistent with a T helper 2-dominated response. Xenogeneic vaccination provides a simple route for testing individual patients' DNAscFv-FrC fusion vaccines, and offers a strategy for production of anti-Id antibodies. The findings underpin the approach of DNA idiotypic fusion vaccination for patients with B-cell tumours.

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