RESEARCH NETWORK FOR NEW STRATEGIES IN IMMUNOTHERAPY
T5 - RNA transfected dendritic cells as a tumor vaccine
Issues of future research:
The project combines RNA technology and Dendritic Cell biology to fight cancer. The basis of cancerogenesis are genomic mutations of the cellular DNA that are transcribed into RNA resulting in altered cell products (tumorantigens) and malignant cell behaviour. To enhance the immunsystem´s reaction to the tumorantigens we will use the whole tumor RNA and transfer it into the most potent activator cells of the immune system, so called dendritic cells. The dendritic cells will then present the tumorantigens, encoded by the tumor RNA and stimulate lymphocytic killer cells. Principally this mimicks the vaccination of patients against viruses, which often are nothing more than RNA with an envelope. This new approach will first be offered to patients with metastatic melanoma, especially to thoroughly monitor the quantity and quality of the induced immune responses. It can, however, be applied to every type of cancer and will hopefully enable us in a view years not only to treat malignant tumors, but even to prevent tumor metastases. Major parts of the basic technology were developed at the Department of Dermatology at Erlangen (Prof. Schuler) and the Duke University, Durham NC (Prof. Gilboa) and have been patented by the company Merix. First trials are starting in 2003, a certified and FDA approved treatment should be ready in 5 years.