Funding: iCARE, US DoD, WA Department of Health
Lay synopsis: Recently, the use of immunotherapy has led to long term remission and even cure for patients with previously untreatable cancers. While this is saving a lot of lives, unfortunately many patients do not benefit from current immunotherapy approaches. This means that it is important to continue developing new treatments for cancer.
Part of the immune system’s regular function is to detect and destroy cancer cells. One of the main characteristics of cancer are the changes, known as mutations, that are made to a tumours DNA. These mutations give rise to proteins that can be recognised by the immune system and can flag the cancer cells as abnormal. These proteins are known as neoantigens. In this project we aim to study the neoantigen immune response and evaluate neoantigen targeted vaccines as a new avenue to treat cancer.
Scientific synopsis: Neoantigens arise from expressed tumour specific mutations that are recognised as foreign by the immune system and trigger a cytotoxic T cell response which eradicates the tumour. By targeting tumour-specific neoantigens vaccines are expected to have less off-target effects than some other immunotherapies. The safety and efficacy of neoantigen vaccines has been demonstrated in a number of pre-clinical mouse studies and early clinical trials.
Our Antigen Targeted Therapy Against Cancer (ATTAC) program utilises a combination of advanced immunoproteomic, genomic and bioinformatic approaches to predict, identify and characterise neoantigens. The program is iterative where findings from our co-clinical models can be immediately translated into an ongoing clinical trial program.