From BioNTech AG: Nature publication describes first example of a clinically applicable and systemic mRNA cancer immunotherapy vaccine

Nature publication describes first example of a clinically applicable and systemic mRNA cancer immunotherapy vaccine” describes an interesting approach to cancer immunotherapy. The research is in the early stages, so enthusiasm should be tempered. Note that the researchers are seeking melanoma patients.

BioNTech AG, a fully integrated biotechnology company developing individualized cancer immunotherapies, together with its translational research partner institute TRON, announces a publication in the internationally renowned scientific journal Nature, describing the first example worldwide of a clinically relevant and systemic mRNA cancer immunotherapy. The study entitled “Systemic RNA delivery to dendritic cells exploits antiviral defense for cancer immunotherapy” can be found here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature18300

The paper outlines a novel and elegantly simple approach to target a nanoparticle mRNA vaccine (RNA-LPX) body-wide to dendritic cells in the spleen, lymph nodes and bone marrow, where a highly potent, dual-mechanism immune response mimicking a natural antiviral immune response is rapidly elicited. The dual mechanism involves both adaptive (T-cell-mediated) and innate (type-I interferon (IFN)-mediated) immune responses, with the IFN response being essential for full anti-tumor effects of the vaccines.

Professor Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech AG commented: “Our study introduces a novel class of extraordinarily potent cancer vaccines that enables efficient redirection of the immune system against a wide range of tumor antigens. This is a major step towards our aim to make truly personalized cancer immunotherapies available and applicable to all cancer types.”

The rest of the article can be read here.

The paper referenced is titled “Systemic RNA delivery to dendritic cells exploits antiviral defence for cancer immunotherapy“. Below is the abstract:

Lymphoid organs, in which antigen presenting cells (APCs) are in close proximity to T cells, are the ideal microenvironment for efficient priming and amplification of T-cell responses1. However, the systemic delivery of vaccine antigens into dendritic cells (DCs) is hampered by various technical challenges. Here we show that DCs can be targeted precisely and effectively in vivo using intravenously administered RNA-lipoplexes (RNA-LPX) based on well-known lipid carriers by optimally adjusting net charge, without the need for functionalization of particles with molecular ligands. The LPX protects RNA from extracellular ribonucleases and mediates its efficient uptake and expression of the encoded antigen by DC populations and macrophages in various lymphoid compartments. RNA-LPX triggers interferon-α (IFNα) release by plasmacytoid DCs and macrophages. Consequently, DC maturation in situ and inflammatory immune mechanisms reminiscent of those in the early systemic phase of viral infection are activated2. We show that RNA-LPX encoding viral or mutant neo-antigens or endogenous self-antigens induce strong effector and memory T-cell responses, and mediate potent IFNα-dependent rejection of progressive tumours. A phase I dose-escalation trial testing RNA-LPX that encode shared tumour antigens is ongoing. In the first three melanoma patients treated at a low-dose level, IFNα and strong antigen-specific T-cell responses were induced, supporting the identified mode of action and potency. As any polypeptide-based antigen can be encoded as RNA3, 4, RNA-LPX represent a universally applicable vaccine class for systemic DC targeting and synchronized induction of both highly potent adaptive as well as type-I-IFN-mediated innate immune mechanisms for cancer immunotherapy.

The full paper is behind a paywall.

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