Dr. Elias Sayour, Chong Zhao and Arnav Barpujari discuss the mRNA cancer vaccine developed at the University of Florida. Photo Credit: Nate Guidry

Health USA22. May 2024

In the Works: Lifesaving Cancer Vaccine Against Brain Tumors

A team of scientists affiliated with the University of Florida, the United States, have conclusively developed an mRNA cancer vaccine aimed at reprogramming the immune system to attack the most aggressive and deadly brain tumor, paving the way for a highly effective cancer treatment.

“I am hopeful that this could be a new paradigm for how we treat patients, a new platform technology for how we can modulate the immune system,” explains Elias Sayour, M.D., Ph.D., a UF Health pediatric oncologist and senior author of the study. “I am hopeful for how this could now synergize with other immunotherapies and perhaps unlock those immunotherapies.”

Four adult patients suffering from glioblastoma – among the most devastating diagnoses – have taken part in the first human clinical trial of the messenger RNA, or mRNA, cancer vaccine. Like the mRNA technology and lipid nanoparticles developed for the COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA vaccine has two key differences: using the patient’s tumor cells to create a personalized vaccine and a newly engineered complex delivery mechanism within the vaccine. The patients were injected with clusters of particles whose goal is to “educate” the immune system that a tumor is foreign as “clusters alert the immune system in a more profound way than single particles would.” The next step is to expand the Phase 1 clinical trial to include up to 24 adult patients to validate the findings, then launch Phase 2 with the participation of an estimated 25 children.

UF Health

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