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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 May 30;134(21):8730-3. doi: 10.1021/ja211725s. Epub 2012 May 17.

A totally synthetic, self-assembling, adjuvant-free MUC1 glycopeptide vaccine for cancer therapy.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Key Laboratory of Bioorganic Phosphorus Chemistry & Chemical Biology (Ministry of Education), Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P. R. China.


In the development of vaccines for epithelial tumors, the key targets are MUC1 proteins, which have a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) bearing tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens (TACAs), such as Tn and STn. A major obstacle in vaccine development is the low immunogenicity of the short MUC1 peptide. To overcome this obstacle, we designed, synthesized, and evaluated several totally synthetic self-adjuvanting vaccine candidates with self-assembly domains. These vaccine candidates aggregated into fibrils and displayed multivalent B-cell epitopes under mild conditions. Glycosylation of Tn antigen on the Thr residue of PDTRP sequence in MUC1 VNTR led to effective immune response. These vaccines elicited a high level antibody response without any adjuvant and induced antibodies that recognized human breast tumor cells. These vaccines appeared to act through a T-cell independent pathway and were associated with the activation of cytotoxic T cells. These fully synthetic, molecularly defined vaccine candidates had several features that hold promise for anticancer therapy.

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