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Development of WT1 Peptide Cancer Vaccine Against Hematopoietic Malignancies and Solid Cancers

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Wild-type Wilms' tumor gene WT1 is highly expressed not only in hematopoietic malignancies, including leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), but also in various kinds of solid tumors. Human cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) which could specifically lyse WT1-expressing tumor cells with HLA class I restriction were generated in vitro. We have also demonstrated that mice immunized with the WT1 peptide or WT1 cDNA rejected challenges by WT1-expressing tumor cells and survived with no signs of auto-aggression to normal organs which physiologically expressed WT1 in prophylactic and therapeutic models. Furthermore, we and others detected IgM and IgG WT1 antibodies in the patients with hematopoietic malignancies, indicating that WT1 protein was highly immunogenic, and that immunoglobulin class-switch-inducing WT1- specific cellular immune responses were elicited in the patients. CD8+ WT1-specific CTLs were also detected in peripheral blood or tumor-draining lymph nodes of cancer patients. These results provided us with the rationale for elicitation of CTL responses targeting the WT1 product for cancer immunotherapy. On the basis of the findings mentioned above, we performed a phase I clinical trial of WT1 peptide cancer vaccine for the patients with malignant neoplasms. These results strongly suggested that WT1 peptide cancer vaccine had efficacy in the clinical setting, because clinical responses, including reduction of leukemic blast cells or regression of tumor masses, were observed after the WT1 vaccination in patients with hematopoietic malignancies or solid cancers. The power of TAA-derived cancer vaccine may be enhanced by combination with stronger adjuvants, helper peptide, or conventional treatments such as molecular-target-based drugs.

Keywords: WT1; cancer; immunotherapy; leukemia; vaccine

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Respiratory Medicine, Allergy and Rheumatic Diseases, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-2, Yamada-Oka, Suita City, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.

Publication date: August 1, 2006

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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