It has long been known that vaccines can protect us from viruses or serious infections. But is it possible to get vaccinated against cancer? This issue is of interest to scientists from around the world for several years now. There are regular developments in this field and more recently it became known that a group of Russian scientists from the National Medical Research Center for Oncology named after NN. Blokhin is developing a vaccine against one of the most terrible types of cancer – melanoma.
Previous studies have shown that melanoma has special mechanisms that help it to escape detection by the immune system, which makes it so dangerous. In this case, it is possible to identify specific mutations in melanoma cells in a particular patient in order to identify unique tumor proteins on the basis of which neoantigens can be created. Neoantigens are proteins that are identical to proteins in tumor tissue, but with one exception: the immune system recognizes them. After this, the obtained neoantigens in the form of a vaccine are administered to the patient. It is worth noting that the vaccine is developed primarily with a focus on those who underwent removal of the tumor in order to avoid relapse in the future. As one of the developers said,
“Now we are creating a program that predicts which neoantigens should be injected so that the cells of immunity respond to them. Of the approximately one thousand potential neoantigens using machine learning methods, twenty should be chosen, of which at least some will reliably bind to T lymphocytes. By October 2018 this algorithm will be made and the first neoantigens will be obtained, which can already be included in the vaccine for mice. “
The vaccine will be tested in 3 groups of animals: the first (control) will be infected with melanoma and it will not receive treatment, the second one will also receive the vaccine as treatment, and the third group will first receive the vaccine for prophylaxis, and then will be infected with melanoma in order to to understand how effective the vaccine is in each case.
“The success of the vaccine developed by our scientists will depend on how well they manage to select and synthesize the right set of neoantigens that can activate the immune response against the tumor.”