Silicon microparticles may improve cancer vaccines
"We could completely inhibit tumor growth after just one dose of the cancer vaccine in the animal model," Dr. Haifa Shen, principal investigator, said. "This is the most amazing result we have ever seen in a tumor treatment study."
This discovery could help a wide variety of cancer patients.
"We have shown for the first time that a microparticle can serve as a carrier for sustained release and processing of tumor antigens," Shen said. "But just as importantly, we learned the microparticles themselves appear to be enough to stimulate a type I interferon response, and were even transferred from one antigen-presenting cell to another to maintain a long-lasting antigen-releasing effect."
Loading the vaccine with HER2, a cancer antigen, could provoke an immune response against cancer cells that express too much of the HER2 antigen.
"Vaccines targeting the HER2 oncoprotein have been tried," Shen said. "But these vaccines have mostly not been very potent because of inefficient vaccine delivery, a poor immune response at the site of the tumor, and other factors. We have shown that the PSM-mediated vaccine is not only potent enough to trigger tumor cell killing, but also modifies the tumor microenvironment in a way that favors tumor treatment."
The applications of the treatment are broad, and the team is optimistic about the implications of the discovery.
"Besides developing a highly potent breast cancer vaccine, we have also demonstrated that PSMs are versatile," Shen said. "This is a technology platform that can be applied by other scientists to develop vaccines for other types of cancers, ultimately helping, we hope, more types of cancer patients."