Tel Aviv University Researchers Develop Vaccine for Melanoma

New study could lead to major breakthrough in the treatment of dangerous skin cancer.

By Tsvi Sadan |
Illustration. Israeli medical researchers are known for making major breakthroughs. Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

Nature Nanotechnology published on August 5 a study led by Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and head of the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Nanomedicine at Tel Aviv Universality’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and Prof. Helena Florindo of the University of Lisbon, while on sabbatical at the Satchi-Fainaro lab at Tel Aviv University.

Satchi-Fainaro’s research team, which also included Dr. João Conniont and Dr. Anna Scomparin, studied nanoparticles that could be used as a vaccine for melanoma. The vaccine proved effective in preventing melanoma tumors in mice. “In our studies,” read a statement from the Satchi-Fainaro team, “we have shown for the first time that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma and to sensitize the immune system to immunotherapies.”

The vaccine consists of tiny particles, about 170 nanometers in size, made of a biodegradable polymer. Within each particle are two peptides, or short chains of amino acids.

The researchers further explained that “the nanoparticles acted just like known vaccines for viral-borne diseases. They stimulated the immune system of the mice, and the immune cells learned to identify and attack cells containing the two peptides. This means that from now on, the immune system of the immunized mice will attack melanoma cells if and when they appear in the body.”

The vaccine approach, according to the Satchi-Fainaro team, “opens the door … for effective treatment of melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the disease … we believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines.”


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