Tel Aviv University & Univ. of Lisbon Develop Nano-Vaccine Against Melanoma & Sensitizes the Immune System to Immunotherapies

Aug 12, 2019 | Cancer, Immunotherapy, Oncology, Preclinical Research


Tel Aviv University’s Professor Ronit Satchi-Fainaro and University of Lisbon’s Helena Florindo have developed an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma that also sensitizes the immune system to immunotherapies that shows results in mice—could it work in humans?

The two clinical investigators were interviewed by recently on the possibly breakthrough nano-vaccine.

The Preclinical Study Results

Their nano-vaccine contains two peptides (short sequences of amino acids) expressed by melanoma cells, stimulating the immune system of the mice in their study—and their immune cells learned to identify and attack cells containing those peptides—e.g. the melanoma cells. This meant that the immune system of immunized mice would attack melanoma cells if and when they appear in the body.

The preclinical investigators from Israel and Portugal investigated the nano-vaccine under three different conditions listed below.

  1. Nano-vaccine provide to have prophylactic effects
  2. Combination of nano-vaccine with immunotherapy to treat mice already bearing melanoma. This enabled the expansion of T cells but did not result in strong control of tumor growth. However, they found an extensive infiltration of immune suppressor cells derived from the bone marrow in the tumor and uncovered that when such cells were inhibited by a drug (ibrutinib), the full potential of their contemplated strategy unveiled. That is, the growth of melanoma was strongly reduced and survival rates of the mice increased from 20% (immunotherapy and the drug) to 70% at day 65 when the nano-vaccine was combined with the immunotherapy-drug regimen. No untreated mice lived past day 28.
  3. When testing in human tissue taken when melanoma cancer cells had spread to the brain. The same peptides exist in human brain tissues, suggesting their nano-vaccine “packed” with the two peptides is likely to trigger a similar reaction in the brain—the hope, of course, is that the nano-vaccine could potentially be used to treat brain metastases in humans.

Lead Research/Investigators

Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Tel Aviv University

Helena Florindo, University of Lisbon


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