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Curr Issues Mol Biol. 2017;22:113-128. Epub 2016 Nov 1.

mRNA: A Versatile Molecule for Cancer Vaccines.

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TRON - Translational Oncology at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz gGmbH, Mainz, Germany.


mRNA vaccines are finally ready to assume their rightful place at the forefront of nucleic acid- based vaccines. Major achievements within the last two decades have turned this highly versatile molecule into a safe and very attractive pharmaceutical platform that combines many positive attributes able to address a broad range of diseases, including cancer. The simplicity of mRNA vaccines greatly reduces complications generally associated with the production of biological vaccines. Intrinsic costimulatory and inflammatory triggers in addition to the provision of the antigenic information makes mRNA an all- in-one molecule that does not need additional adjuvants and that does not pose the risk of genomic integration. Clinical studies in various cancer types are moving forward and promising results with favorable clinical outcome are awaited. This review will recapitulate conceptual, mechanistic and immune-related features of this highly versatile molecule, elucidate how these features have been addressed in the past, and how comprehensive understanding can foster further optimization for broad application possibilities in cancer treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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