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Antigen-cloning Technique May Bolster Skin Cancer Vaccine

A new antigen-cloning technique may help advance efforts to develop a vaccine against melanoma and other kinds of cancer, a U.S. study suggests.

To date, scientists have had difficulty isolating and cloning antigens needed to develop cancer vaccines that directly stimulate immune system helper T-cells, which have receptors on their cell surfaces that can recognize and bind to tumor-related antigens, according to background information in a news release.

A team at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia says it has developed a novel method to clone an antigen recognized by helper T-cells. In this study, the scientists identified and cloned a new tumor antigen called ribosomal protein L8 (RPL8) from melanoma.

They then found that a peptide of RPL8 stimulated a response in helper T-cell clones and lymphocytes in four out of nine melanoma patients but stimulated no response in cells taken from healthy people.

RPL8, which is involved in protein synthesis and is present in normal cells, is overexpressed in melanoma, breast cancer and gliomas, the most common type of brain tumor.

This new antigen-cloning technique may lead to the development of vaccines that can directly stimulate helper T-cells to fight not only these cancers, but also infectious diseases, the researchers said.

The study was published in the April 15 issue of Cancer Research.

HealthDay News, April 16, 2007

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