Researchers at Mayo Clinic are developing cancer vaccines based on a new approach that uses genomic research and data analysis to target the specific characteristics of tumors. The investigation seeks to design personalized vaccines for each patient.
The treatment aims to prevent the progression of cancer by targeting the patient's specific neoantigens, unique tumor protein mutations that are only found on the surface of cancerous cells. “For some cancer patients, the vaccine could induce shrinkage of their tumors and provide them with long-term, durable antitumor immunity,” said Keith Knutson, Co-Director Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center.
This process implements technology similar to the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, focusing on a specific disease-related protein to treat the disease. “As the immune system learns to recognize that protein, it can stimulate the production of killer T cells to fight it,” said Knutson.
The objective is to recognize from 20 to 30 mutated proteins to then include them in a vaccine, said Knutson. This vaccine would then be used to immunize the patients repeatedly amid immune checkpoint inhibitors and immunotherapy treatment. This method has already been applied in preclinical models in animal testing. Its results provided evidence that dual therapy did not cause significant toxicity while also prolonging survival. “The hope is that we will be able to repeat these findings in humans.”
Genomic medicine is gaining more popularity in the medical field, "Studying the evolution of viruses is key to detecting mutations or variants that can modify the transmission rate or severity of a pathogen and affect the efficacy of diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatment," said Jairo Méndez, Emerging Viral Disease Advisor, PAHO, as reported by MBN.
Experts agree on the importance of the development of this field for Mexico. “These technologies are gradually starting to become mandatory instruments for medical practice, especially in industrialized countries. Mexico is not doing badly. The country has been investing in scientific research and into the adoption of genomics products and services. Medical genomics has been gradually growing and conquering the market in Mexico. Medical groups now offer genomic tests at increasingly lower prices, using robust technologies that benefit patients,” Gerardo Jiménez-Sánchez, Founder, Genómica Médica, told MBN.