Vaccines containing specific molecules expressed by breast cancer cells can alert the immune system for the presence of the cells and trigger a response to eliminate them, according to a study published in the journal OncoImmunology
The study, titled “Proof Of Concept Study With An HER-2 Mimotope Anticancer Vaccine Deduced From A Novel AAV-Mimotope Library Platform,
” was conducted by Austrian researchers.
The immune system works by detecting several proteins present at the surface of bacteria and viruses, attacking them. Cancer cells also have proteins located at the cell surface, but the immune system does not recognize them as harmful, because they are produced by the person’s own body.
Researchers have argued that vaccinations containing imitations of cancer proteins, called mimotopes, can alert the immune system to the presence of cancer cells that express these molecules, thereby stimulating an immune response toward these cells. Vaccines against several types of cancer can be created by producing mimotopes that mimic the molecules produced by each cancer cell type.
However, the immune system cannot be alerted by the presence of the imitation molecules alone – again, because they are similar to those produced by the person’s own body. Mimotopes have to be bonded to a carrier that triggers an immune response itself. Because the carrier is external to the body, the immune system will be activated. Because the carrier is linked to the mimotopes, the immune system will think those molecules belong to the invading carrier and must be targeted. Thi