University of Helsinki researchers have uncovered a novel method to generate an artificially enveloped oncolytic adenovirus to direct the immune response against cancer. The team in Finland is but one of a number of groups investigating virus-based cancer vaccines as a potential novel approach in immune-oncology. The Finnish team targeted tumor-associated antigens but researchers will struggle with the identification of these antigens.

The Vaccine: ExtraCRAd

The team has developed ExtraCRAd, a novel cancer vaccine platform, consisting of an oncolytic adenovirus wrapped in an artificial envelope made of cancer-cell membrane. Oncolytic virus therapy uses modified viruses that can infect and destroy tumor cells but avoid harming normal cells. 

According to Professor Helder Santos, “ExraCRAd is a versatile and advanced technology for cancer treatment, a result of  the synergetic effect between the oncolytic virus and the cancer-cell membranes.” Professor Vincenzo Cerullo followed that, saying, “Overall, ExtraCRAd might serve as the next generation of personalized cancer vaccines with enhanced features over standard oncolytic virus therapy, representing an alternative to immunologically target cancer.”

The Study Results

Thus far, the University of Helsinki researchers have produced evidence that ExtraCRAd displays an increased infectivity and oncolytic effect in vitro, and in a human-relevant animal model of tumor in vivo. The team also revealed that this Nano vaccine platform controls the growth of aggressive melanoma and lung tumors both in preventive and therapeutic vaccination strategy, creating a highly specific anti-cancer immune response.

Novel and Different

Professor Cerullo noted that what they have done that is novel is the actual building of “artificial envelopes made of cancer cell membrane,” which is actually “a new and creative approach that our lab had developed together with Santos’ Lab.” Cross-functional, multi-lab collaboration was key for this breakthrough.

Lead Research/Investigator

Vincenzo Cerullo 

Dr. Flavia Fontana 

Professor Helder Santos

Call to Action: Are you a prospective partner interested in aligning with the University of Helsinki team? They suggest that, overall, ExtraCRAd might serve as the next generation of personalized cancer vaccines with enhanced features over standard oncolytic virus therapy, representing an alternative to immunologically target cancer. We include the contact information for Professor Cerullo.

Source: Nature Research

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