The team, led by Professor Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, discovered a new approach for treating the disease based on manipulating the immune response to malignant tumours. The discovery has been patented and there are plans to develop the vaccine for clinical use for cancer patients.
The research, entitled “Immunotherapy with PI3K inhibitor and toll-like receptor agonist induces IFN-γ+IL-17+ polyfunctional T-cells that mediate rejection of murine tumours”, was published online in the journal Cancer Research in December 2011.
The authors write that the vaccine has developed an immunotherapeutic approach to overcome obstacles associated with other cancer vaccines and has “the potential to significantly improve on existing technologies”.
“In this study, we show that specific small molecule inhibitors of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) relieve immunosuppression to heighten the proinflammatory effects of toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands that support anti-tumour immunity,” the authors write.
The new vaccine approach was found to be highly effective at the pre-clinical stage in treating a range of cancers in murine models.
According to the researchers, their results indicate that PI3K inhibition heighten the anti-tumour properties of TLR ligands, eliciting tumour regression directly but also indirectly by relieving suppressive signals that restrict potent anti-tumour T-cell responses.
“These findings suggest important uses for PI3K inhibitors in heightening responses to cancer immunotherapy and immunochemotherapy,” the team conclude (Irish Medical News)