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Drs. Barchi and Gildersleeve in C&E News
Improving Vaccines Aimed At Cancer
April 2011

On the basis of findings by glycobiologist Jeffrey C. Gildersleeve of Frederick National Lab, Frederick, Md., and coworkers that humans develop high levels of antibodies against the carbohydrate rhamnose, glycopeptide vaccine specialist Steven J. Sucheck of the University of Toledo and coworkers are testing a conjugate of Tn antigen with an immune-activating peptide called YAF and rhamnose. They are also studying multivalent conjugate vaccines made from MUC1 glycopeptides, adjuvant, and rhamnose. A group led by Joseph J. Barchi Jr., a structural glycoconjugate chemist at NCI, is developing yet another type of replacement for carrier proteins—nanoparticles. By attaching an antibody-inducing peptide and a MUC4 glycopeptide form of the disaccharide cancer antigen TF separately to gold nanoparticles, Barchi and coworkers have been able to raise antibodies that recognize both TF and the TF-glycopeptides. “I wanted to see if you could create immunity on a nanocarrier like gold and at the same time go against the paradigm of needing to covalently conjugate carbohydrate antigens to carrier proteins like KLH,” Barchi says. However, immune responses induced by the conjugates have so far been weak and nonprotective, he notes. His team continues to optimize the conjugates’ construction in hopes of boosting the immune response to them.

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