New class of vaccines to kill tumor cells -

Introducing a new class of cancer vaccines

During the corona pandemic, a new class of vaccines was introduced with mRNA vaccines. A German research team has just presented another new class of vaccines intended to target cancer cells.

A joint working group of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and the University Medical Center Mainz recently presented a new class of vaccines in the journal "ACS Nano", which should enable targeted vaccination for the first time. against cancer.

Basics of Cancer Vaccines

The new class of vaccines provides the basis for being able to offer cancer vaccines in the future. “We have established a new class of vaccines that could be an effective alternative to mRNA vaccines,” confirms Professor Dr. Lutz Nuhn of the research team.

Two-component vaccine

As the researchers explain, the new vaccines consist of two components: an antigen and an immune activator.

The antigen is specific to the tumor cell and is effectively identified as an "enemy" by the immune system, after which targeted antibodies are formed against the cancer cells. The immune activator acts as a kind of "spooker" which stimulates the immune system.

Reduce the immune response to the desired level

As an immune activator, scientists use a derivative of a chemical molecule that has already been used in the Indian corona vaccine Covaxin.

However, the molecule discovered by the American researcher Sunil A. David is too powerful in direct administration and would cause severe inflammatory reactions throughout the body. To avoid this, the working group attached it to a support made of polymer-based nanoparticles.

These nanoparticles have a gelatinous consistency, are biodegradable and can locally limit the effect of the immune activator. "By linking it to nanopolymers, we were able to reduce the immune reaction to the desired level," Nuhn points out.

Suitable for those affected

The antigens presented to the immune system can vary from cancer to cancer. Vaccination must therefore first be adapted to the person concerned.

"If a tumor is diagnosed at an early stage, a race against time begins to produce the patient-specific vaccination as quickly as possible," says Nuhn.

T cells specifically target tumor cells

According to the researchers involved, model tests for new classes of vaccines hold great promise. As the working group reports, the vaccine-activated T cells only killed tumor cells in a targeted manner and did not affect healthy tissue.

"The polymer-based nanocarrier is a useful toolkit to further evaluate antigen-specific vaccinations and develop other therapeutic concepts based on cancer vaccines," summarizes Nuhn.

a few more years

According to the working group, "several years of further research are needed" before such vaccines can actually be given to humans. Nuhn also points out that not all types of cancer can be fought with vaccines. (vb)

Author and source information

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research: Cancer Vaccination? New class of vaccines developed (published 2022-07-26), mpip-mainz.mpg.deStickdorn, J.; Stein, L.; Arnold-Schild, D.; Hahlbrock, J.; et al. : Systemically administered TLR7/8 agonist and antigen-conjugated nanogels mediate immune responses against tumors; in: ACS Nano (2022),

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.