Dendritic cells are central to the regulation, maturation, and maintenance of the body’s cellular immune response against cancer. Part of their job is to activate cancer-killing T cells by “presenting” tumor-associated antigens on their surface. However, dendritic cells have proved difficult to employ in cancer vaccine therapies because, normally, they have to be isolated from individual patients, loaded with tumor-specific antigens in the laboratory, and then administered back to the same patients. In this issue of Nature Biotechnology (Vol. 20, No. 1, 01 Jan 02), Akira Takashima and colleagues, working in mice, circumvent the need to manipulate dendritic cells outside the body through the use of rod-like implants that, after insertion into the skin, both trap skin dendritic cells and load them with tumor antigens.
They achieved this by implanting two types of rods under the skin of each mouse. The first released a substance called a chemokine, which temporarily “traps” dendritic cells by attracting them to the rod as they migrate from the (skin) epidermis to the lymph nodes. (A chemical was applied to the skin of the mice to trigger migration of the cells.) The second implanted rod released tumor-associated antigens that could be taken up by the trapped dendritic cells.
Mice that had been treated this way and were then inoculated with tumors were protected against tumor growth. Moreover, vaccinating mice that already had tumors significantly inhibited tumor growth. This anti-tumor vaccine approach could prove cost effective in dendritic cell–based cancer immunotherapies.
Department of Dermatology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX 75390
(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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