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Cancer Gene Ther. 2011 Jan;18(1):63-76. doi: 10.1038/cgt.2010.45. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

Multivalent immunity targeting tumor-associated antigens by intra-lymph node DNA-prime, peptide-boost vaccination.

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Department of Research and Development, Mannkind Corporation, Valencia, CA 91355, USA.


Active immunotherapy of cancer has yet to yield effective therapies in the clinic. To evaluate the translatability of DNA-based vaccines we analyzed the profile of T-cell immunity by plasmid vaccination in a murine model, using transcriptome microarray analysis and flow cytometry. DNA vaccination resulted in specific T cells expressing low levels of co-inhibitory molecules (most notably PD-1), strikingly different from the expression profile elicited by peptide immunization. In addition, the T-cell response primed through this dual-antigen-expressing plasmid (MART-1/Melan-A and tyrosinase) translated into a substantial proliferation capacity and functional conversion to antitumor effector cells after tyrosinase and MART-1/Melan-A peptide analog boost. Furthermore, peptide boost rescued the immune response against the subdominant tyrosinase epitope. This immunization approach could be adapted to elicit potent immunity against multiple tumor antigens, resulting in a broader immune response that was more effective in targeting human tumor cells. Finally, this study sheds light on a novel mechanism of immune homeostasis through synchronous regulation of co-inhibitory molecules on T cells, highly relevant to heterologous prime boost approaches involving DNA vaccines as priming agents.

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