Projects

Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) entails a broad scope of disciplines, from pharmaceuticals to medical technology and from healthcare infrastructure to vaccination. To realise its mission – vital citizens in a healthy economy - the Top Sector builds on the strengths of the Dutch LSH sector to address the biggest societal challenges in prevention, cure and care. By funding multidisciplinary public-private partnerships (PPPs) the Top Sector aims to facilitate innovation. Here we give an overview of  a number of funded R&D projects by Top Sector LSH. The page is updated continuously.

Development of innovative, personalized cancer vaccines

NeoVAC: a new class of innovative personalized cancer vaccines.

The NeoVAC project combines Synvolux technology and expertise in delivering potent DNA vaccines with LUMC’s extensive knowledge in the field of tumor immunology to obtain proof-of-principle for a new class of innovative, personalized and tumor-specific vaccines.

Cancer is caused by an unfortunate accumulation of DNA mutations in a cell’s genome that may lead to uncontrolled cell growth and the development of tumors. These tumor-specific DNA mutations are ideal targets for cancer immunotherapy since they do not occur in healthy cells, and since the protein products of these mutations (neo-antigens) can be recognized by the immune system. However, the development of universal vaccines against these neo-antigens is hampered by the fact that each tumor has a unique set of mutations, and each patient will present a different set of neo-antigens.

A personalized immunotherapy approach will therefore be needed to characterize the full spectrum of tumor-specific mutations and resulting neo-antigens, enabling the generation of unique and patient-specific vaccines. Because of their versatility and ease of production, DNA vaccines are ideally suited for such personalized tumor vaccines, in particular when combined with Synvolux’ SAINT™ technology for safe and efficient in vivo delivery.

In the NeoVAC project, LUMC and Synvolux will design, test and optimize prototype DNA vaccines against colon cancer in a pre-clinical model. Preliminary results already look promising, and demonstrate efficient immune responses against tumor-specific antigens. Ultimately, we aim to develop these findings into therapeutic modalities, and/or in prophylactic vaccines that may prevent the recurrence of tumors and increase long-term survival and quality of life of millions of cancer survivors. New funds will be sought to further advance and translate these studies into clinical applications.

Fig 1. Tumor with infiltrating immune cells (Intradermal DNA vaccination, courtesy of immuno-art.nl)