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NEWS
Virus-Like Particle May Lead To New Cancer Vaccine
March 21, 2018

Michigan State University scientists are engineering a virus-like particle, known as Qß, that will generate anti-cancer immune responses in the body and potentially be used as a new vaccine for the treatment of cancer.

The project, funded by a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, will support the development of the vaccine to protect animals against cancerous cells that are currently untreatable, and could easily translate to vaccines for humans’ use of spontaneously occurring cancers.

“This grant is unique as it focuses on the development of new anti-cancer immunotherapy based on collaborations between colleges of natural science, engineering and veterinary medicine,” said Xuefei Huang, associate chair for research in chemistry and biomedical engineering for the College of Engineering. “It aims to establish a novel method for cancer treatment, complementing the current chemo- and radio-therapy.”

Huang is spearheading the research with two experts from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan, associate dean of research and graduate studies and a cancer researcher, and Paulo Vilar Saavedra, head of oncology.

According to information, the team will combine Qß particles with tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens, or TACAs, which they believe will lead to complete antitumor cell immunity, reduce tumor growth and protect against tumor development. In addition, the researchers will use the Qß’s crystal structure to develop mutations that could reduce toxic antibodies and boost desired cells, which can also kill cancer cells.

This will be the first trial of its kind using TACA-based vaccine models.

The most destructive cancers suppress the immune system by concealing proteins, which hinder signals that would normally trigger an immune response. To help combat this, the researchers are focusing on a special type of antigen that is present in various types of cancer cells, and often outlasts traditional chemotherapy treatments.

The vaccine will first be used to treat canine cancer patients and focus on osteosarcoma, a challenging bone tumor in dogs and humans.


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