Cancer Immunotherapy

Dendritic cells (DCs) play a key role in the induction of antigen-specific immune responses to microbes and tumour antigens. Experimental vaccines based on conditioned dendritic cells are being used in clinical trials. The intent is to programme the patient's immune system to mount a cytotoxic attack on tumour cells. SBL currently have a DC platform technology that permits the screening of novel immunomodulators and new sources of antigenic material. We have been applying this technology to exploring novel approaches to creating dendritic cell vaccines.

We also have a wide range of expertise in measuring both innate and adaptive immune responses using a variety of in vitro techniques. Through collaboration we also have the opportunity to test potential vaccines using in vivo models.

An alternative approach is to modify the tumour environment in patients directly, i.e. 'Autovaccination' In this case the understanding of dendritic cell conditioning is translated into stategies which will alter the programming of the immune system in tumours in situ, avoiding the need to generate a dentritic cell vaccine for each patient in vitro. In collaboration with St. Georges University of London, we have completed a first in a series of clinical trials of this approach.

See: Green et al, 2007 and Green et al, 2008

We are now defining and organising a second clinical trial in this series.

See also Kovalcsik et al, 2011 for details of published research into induced tumopur cell death by Poly I:C, leading to DC maturation and Th1 activation.