Tumors develop as a consequence of gene mutations that alter cellular morphology and metabolism. These mutations, that give tumors a selective growth advantage over healthy tissues, potentially represent tumors’ “Achilles’ heel”. Indeed, all cancer therapies attempt to use strategies that selectively recognize the differences in cancer cells and kill them while sparing normal cells.
It is now well recognized that mutated proteins in cancer cells can become the target of anti-tumor immune responses. Several strategies aimed at potentiating the capacity of the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells are being developed and immunotherapy has already delivered spectacular therapeutic results.
A promising branch of immunotherapy are cancer vaccines. They are constituted by small portions (“neoepitopes”) of those proteins modified by cancer-specific gene mutations, and immunostimulatory components (“adjuvants”) that stimulate the immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells that express the mutated proteins. Since mutations are tumor- and patient-specific, cancer vaccines must be personalized.
The production of personalized cancer vaccines involves (Figure 1): 1) collection of cancer biopsies from patient, 2) whole genome/exome sequencing of cancer cells, 3) bioinformatics identification of cancer-associated mutations and prediction of cancer neoepitopes, 4) formulation of vaccines constituted by cancer neoepitopes and adjuvant(s), 6) patient vaccination.
To be effective personalized cancer vaccines have to be produced and formulated in a timeframe compatible with the need to treat patients as soon as possible after neoepitope identification. Ideally, vaccination should start within two to three months from the availability of tumor biopsies.
BiOMViS has the ambition to play a key role in future personalized cancer vaccines.
BiOMViS’ technology allows the preparation of personalized vaccines ready to be administered in patients in less than eight weeks by the time neoepitopes have been selected by genome sequencing and bioinformatics.
|Figure 1 – Schematic representation of BiOMViS’ personalized cancer vaccines – 1) surgical removal of cancer from the patient, 2) whole genome/exome sequencing of cancer cells, 3) bioinformatics identification of cancer-associated mutations, 4) bioinformatics prediction of cancer neoepitopes, 5) OMV engineering with cancer neoepitopes, 6) preparation of GMP-grade OMVs, 7) patient vaccination.|