Developing enzymatically-resistant carbohydrate vaccines for treating lung cancer
Therapeutic vaccines incorporating sugar molecules could provide new cancer treatments. Because over 85% of carcinoma cancer cells, regardless of organ, display the same few sugars on their surface, sugars not found on healthy cells, these sugars are promising targets for immunotherapy. Unfortunately, no viable vaccines have been developed. Two main problems are 1) sugars are unstable in the body – they are likely broken down before the vaccine can initiate an immune response, and 2) the immune system does not recognize small sugars.
In this project, Dr Trant’s research team aims to address both challenges by creating a vaccine that uses a form of stabilized sugar that can resist the enzymes that break down sugars. They will attach many copies of this sugar to a highly immune-active peptide to stimulate an immune response. Preliminary work shows this is a promising approach, and will be useful for the treatment of carcinomas, and particularly for late-stage cancers which have few current treatments.