Researchers Identify Neo-Antigens as Potential Targets for Personalized Immunotherapy

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According to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, and the University of Connecticut, in Storrs and Farmington, Connecticut, have identified potential new targets for personalized cancer vaccines.

The study utilized two methods to identify potential neo-antigens with relative high accuracy that can potentially be used as personalized cancer vaccines.

First, the researchers at the University of Connecticut identified neo-antigens in mice with cancer. Then, the researchers at the University of Notre Dame used the University of Connecticut team's data with three-dimensional structural modeling to determine which neo-epitopes were most different from those in the genome of normal mice.

The researchers hope to repeat the same methodology using tumors from humans with cancer. Particularly, they plan to study genomics-driven, personalized cancer immunotherapy in patients with ovarian cancer.

Cancers are caused by DNA mutations, which cause production of mutated proteins and neo-antigens. The neo-antigens destroy cancer cells in the early stages of cancer, but once developed, the immune system is not enough. Neo-antigens are rare and are different between each person, but once identified, can be used to develop vaccines that boost the immune system.

Researchers Identify Neo-Antigens as Potential Targets for Personalized Immunotherapy
Researchers identified potential new targets for personalized cancer vaccines.

A team of University of Notre Dame scientists, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Connecticut, have announced the results of a new study on identifying potential targets for personalized cancer vaccines. The paper, "Genomic and bioinformatic profiling of mutational neoepitopes reveals new rules to predict anticancer immunogenicity," was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

The research group at Notre Dame was led by Brian Baker, associate dean for research and graduate studies and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and included Steven Corcelli, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and graduate student Cory Ayers.

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