July 22, 2024


Neoantigens: A New Target For Preventive Cancer Vaccines.

Dogs are being examined for an immunological response to peptides produced by altered messenger RNA (mRNA). Cancer therapy testing in dogs is still uncommon in cancer research, although it is becoming more common. Because many efforts to develop cancer vaccines rely on mRNA delivery, the coronavirus epidemic has strengthened the field. Vaccine makers want to stimulate the immune system to fight the tumor by providing these peptides in concentrated form. Johnston is the first to say that he is not an immunologist, preferring to describe himself as an inventor.

These vaccines are intended to treat cancer rather than prevent it. Most must be tailored to the set of neoantigens produced in a given patient’s tumor. Even if the vaccines work, they will most likely be expensive. The junk protein synthesized from mRNA frameshift mutations was discovered to be highly immunogenic by Johnston’s team. Antibodies against the peptides are produced in mice, dogs, and cancer patients, but not in sufficient quantities to destroy the tumor.

Scientists may be able to stomp out malignancies immediately by priming the immune system with a massive dosage of these antigens. Johnston’s group developed a chip that could capture antibodies and produce vaccinations. Johnston and his colleagues have proposed a vaccination that uses neoantigens, or messenger RNA, to stimulate the immune system’s response to cancer.

They demonstrated that their strategy inhibited tumors as efficiently in mice as those currently in human trials. However, time and money have been two key impediments to human testing thus far. Other groups are now working on cancer vaccinations that are not based on neoantigen methods.

Cancer researchers have realized that dogs provide a good testing ground for experimental medicines. Cancer develops spontaneously in dogs at the same pace as it does in humans throughout the course of their lives. Dogs have immune systems that are quite similar to ours, and they live in the same environment. However, because their predicted life spans are so much shorter, clinical studies can be completed in considerably less time. The trial is looking for healthy, middle-aged, cancer-free dogs of various mixed and pure breeds to participate.

The dogs receive four vaccinations over the first two months, followed by annual boosters for the next five years of the study. So far, about 700 of the study’s 800 participants have signed up. What scientists discover will be a huge help in understanding the immunology of canine cancer and, by implication, human cancer.


Katsnelson, A. (2021, October 10). Preventive Cancer Vaccine Based On Neoantigens Gets Put To the Test. Chemical & Engineering News. 

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