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Gene Ther. 1998 Feb;5(2):247-52.

Anti-tumor immunity induced by murine melanoma cells transduced with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene encoding the 38-kDa antigen.

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Division of Experimental Oncology, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan, Italy.


The Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ag38 gene, which encodes a highly immunogenic protein, was cloned into a retroviral vector in-frame with the leader and the transmembrane portion of the nerve growth factor receptor, and transduced into murine melanoma cell line B16-B78. Significant protection was observed in mice immunized with the transduced melanoma cells and subcutaneously challenged with parental melanoma cells since only 20% of mice developed tumors. Necroscopy of mice immunized with the transduced melanoma cells revealed dramatic inhibition of experimental metastases induced by intravenous (i.v.) inoculation of parental melanoma cells. Moreover, vaccination with transduced cells significantly prolonged survival of mice challenged i.v. with parental melanoma cells. These data indicate that the presence of the mycobacterial 38-kDa protein greatly enhances immunological recognition of structures expressed by the parental melanoma cells. Comparison of Th1 and Th2 responses in mice immunized with parental melanoma cells versus mice receiving the transduced cells revealed a clear predominance of Th1 responses when the Ag38 protein was endogenously expressed. This transduction approach may represent a promising immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer patients.

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