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Rome, Italy

Aurisicchio L.,Takis | Ciliberto G.,University of Catanzaro
Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy

Introduction: The recent approval of the first therapeutic cancer vaccine by the US Regulatory Agency represents a breakthrough event in the history of cancer treatment. The past scepticism towards this type of therapeutic intervention is now replaced by great expectations. The field is now moving towards the development of alternative vaccination technologies, which are capable of generating stronger, more durable and efficient immune responses against specific tumour-associated antigens (TAAs) in combination with cheaper and more standardised manufacturing. Areas covered: In this context, genetic vaccines are emerging among the most promising methodologies. Several evidences point to combinations of different genetic immunisation modalities (heterologous prime/boost) as a powerful approach to induce superior immune responses and achieve greater clinical efficacy. In this review, we provide an overview of the current status of development of genetic cancer vaccines with particular emphasis on adenoviral vector prime/DNA boost vaccination schedules. Expert opinion: We believe that therapeutic genetic cancer vaccines have the strong potential to become an established therapeutic modality for cancer in next coming years, in a manner similar to what have now become monoclonal antibodies. © 2012 Informa UK, Ltd. Source

Ciliberto G.,Italian National Cancer Institute | Aurisicchio L.,Takis
Veterinary and Comparative Oncology

The concept of vaccines based on the direct inoculation of plasmid DNA gained initial proof-of-concept in small rodent species. Further development was hampered by the difficulty to confirm immunogenicity and efficacy in large animal species and, most importantly, in human clinical trials. These negative findings led to the search of complementary technologies which, in combination with intradermal or intramuscular plasmid DNA injection would result in more robust delivery, decreased interindividual variability, clear evidence of clinical efficacy and which would eventually lead to market approval of new vaccine products. The use of high-pressure, needleless devices as an enhancing tool for plasmid DNA delivery led to recent approval by USDA of Oncept™, a therapeutic cancer vaccine directed against tyrosinase for the therapy of melanoma in dogs. An alternative approach to improve plasmid DNA delivery is electro-gene-transfer (EGT). In this article, we briefly review the principles of DNA-EGT and the evidences for efficacy of a telomerase reverse transcriptase vaccine in a dog clinical trial, and provide perspectives for the use of this technology for broader applications in pet animals. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Lanzardo S.,University of Turin | Conti L.,University of Turin | Rooke R.,ElsaLys Biotech | Ruiu R.,University of Turin | And 9 more authors.
Cancer Research

Resistance to therapy and lack of curative treatments for metastatic breast cancer suggest that current therapies may be missing the subpopulation of chemoresistant and radioresistant cancer stem cells (CSC). The ultimate success of any treatment may well rest on CSC eradication, but specific anti-CSC therapies are still limited. A comparison of the transcriptional profiles of murine Her2+ breast tumor TUBO cells and their derived CSC-enriched tumorspheres has identified xCT, the functional subunit of the cystine/glutamate antiporter system xc -, as a surface protein that is upregulated specifically in tumorspheres. We validated this finding by cytofluorimetric analysis and immunofluorescence in TUBO-derived tumorspheres and in a panel of mouse and human triple negative breast cancer cell-derived tumorspheres.Wefurther show that downregulation of xCT impaired tumorsphere generation and altered CSC intracellular redox balance in vitro, suggesting that xCT plays a functional role in CSC biology. DNA vaccination based immunotargeting of xCT in mice challenged with syngeneic tumorsphere-derived cells delayed established subcutaneous tumor growth and strongly impaired pulmonary metastasis formation by generating anti-xCT antibodies able to alter CSC self-renewal and redox balance. Finally, anti-xCT vaccination increased CSC chemosensitivity to doxorubicin in vivo, indicating that xCT immunotargeting may be an effective adjuvant to chemotherapy. © 2015 AACR. Source

Aurisicchio L.,Takis | Fridman A.,Merck And Co. | Bagchi A.,Merck And Co. | Scarselli E.,Keires | And 2 more authors.

Genetic vaccines are emerging as a powerful modality to induce T-cell responses to target tumor associated antigens (TAA). Viral or plasmid DNA or RNA vectors harbor an expression cassette encoding the antigen of choice delivered in vivo by vaccination. In this context, immunizations with minigenes containing selected, highly antigenic, T-cell epitopes of TAA s may have several advantages relative to full-length proteins. The objective of this study was to identify an optimal scaffold for minigene construction. We generated a number of minigenes containing epitopes from the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) model TAA and utilized muscle DNA electro-gene-transfer (DNA-EGT) to vaccinate HLA-A*0201 (HHD) and CEA/HHD double transgenic mice. The components utilized to construct the minigenes included CD8+ T cell epitopes and (or) anchor modified analogs that were selected on the basis of their predicted binding to HLA-*A0201, their uniqueness in the human proteome, and the likelihood of cancer cell natural processing and presentation via MHC-I. Other candidate components comparatively tested included: helper CD4+ T-cell epitopes, flanking regions for optimal epitope processing (including both proteasome-dependent and furin-dependent polypeptide processing mechanisms), and immunoenhancing moieties. Through a series of comparative studies and iterations we have identified an optimal minigene scaffold comprising the following elements: human tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) signal peptide, T-cell epitopes connected by furin sensitive linkers, and the E. Coli enterotoxin B subunit. The selected epitope modified minigenes (EMM) delivered by DNA -EG T were able to break immune tolerance in CEA/HH D mice and induce a strong immune response against all epitopes tested, independently of their relative positions within the scaffold. Furthermore, the optimized EMMs delivered via DNA -EG T were more immunogenic and exerted more powerful antitumor effects in a B16-CEA/HH D metastatic melanoma model than a DNA vector encoding the full-length protein or a mixture of the same peptides injected subcutaneously. Our data may shed light on the optimal design of a universal vehicle for epitopetargeted, genetic cancer vaccines. © 2014 Landes Bioscience. Source

Aurisicchio L.,Biogem Science a r.l | Marra E.,Takis | Luberto L.,Takis | Luberto L.,University of Catanzaro | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Cellular Physiology

The role of the ErbB3 receptor in signal transduction is to augment the signaling repertoire of active heterodimeric ErbB receptor complexes through activating the PI3K/AKT pathway, which in turn promotes survival and proliferation. ErbB3 has recently been proposed to be involved in acquired resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), and is therefore a promising new drug cancer target. Since ErbB3 is a kinase defective receptor, it cannot be targeted by small molecule inhibitors, whereas monoclonal antibodies may offer a viable strategy for pharmacological intervention. In this study, we have utilized DNA electroporation (DNA-EP) to generate a set of novel hybridomas directed against human ErbB3, which have been characterized for their biochemical and functional properties and selected for their ability to negatively regulate the ErbB3-mediated signaling pathway. In vitro, the anti-ErbB3 antibodies modulate the growth rate of cancer cells of different origins. In vivo they show antitumoral properties in a xenograft model of human pancreatic tumor and in the ErbB2-driven carcinogenesis genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM) for mammary tumor, the BALB/neuT. Our data confirm that downregulating the ErbB3-mediated signals with the use of anti-ErbB3 monoclonal antibodies is both feasible and relevant for therapeutic purposes and provides new opportunities for novel anti-ErbB3 combinatory strategies for cancer treatment. J. Cell. Physiol. 227: 3381-3388, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

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