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Development of optimised recombinant idiotypic vaccines for subset-specific immunotherapy of B cell lymphomas

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Molecular idiotypes for 'vital' cancer vaccines

European research has capitalised on the properties of idiotypic or molecularly similar Id proteins for the production of new vaccines for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

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NHL is the eighth leading cause for new cancer cases and the European cancer registry indicates that the incidence of NHL is increasing significantly. Furthermore, NHL is of clinical relevance for HIV positive patients, being one of the major causes of death in this group. Scientists believe that one of the categories of NHL, the B-cell lymphomas, accounting for 80–90 % of NHL, may hold the answer to a vaccine for this heterogeneous group of cancers. One key feature of these cancers is lymphoproliferation where lymphocytes are made in excessive amounts. The EU-funded VITAL project aimed to exploit the molecular features of so-called Id proteins (translated from the Id gene family) of certain B-cell lymphomas and leukaemias. The overarching goal was to develop recombinant Id proteins for vaccination. VITAL scientists identified certain subsets of B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders characterised by molecularly similar Id. These idiotypes would then be targetable by pre-made Id vaccines for prevention and treatment. Vaccines developed by the project on this basis have a high selectivity for tumour cells combined with good patient tolerability and are more affordable. The VITAL researchers also developed a new adjuvant, hyaluronic acid, to enhance the activity of the vaccines. Moreover, new vaccibodies, or delivery systems to enhance antigen targeting to antigen-presenting cells were identified. VITAL research has indicated that it is possible to overcome problems of cost and complexity associated with the individualised production of Id vaccines. The work has also created many new opportunities in the field of cancer immunodiagnostics and therapies, particularly for European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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