Breakthrough: Tel Aviv University researchers develop melanoma vaccine

“We have shown that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma,” says Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro.

By World Israel News Staff 

Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have developed a “novel nano-vaccine for melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer,” the university says in a statement.

It has already “proven effective in preventing the development of melanoma in mouse models and in treating primary tumors and metastases that result from melanoma,” says TAU.

The results of the research were published on Monday in Nature Nanotechnology, an international weekly science journal.

Melanoma develops in the skin cells that produce melanin, or skin pigment, notes TAU.

“The war against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular, has advanced over the years through a variety of treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy; but the vaccine approach, which has proven so effective against various viral diseases, has not materialized yet against cancer,” says Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and head of the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Nanomedicine.

“In our study, we have shown that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma and to sensitize the immune system to immunotherapies,” she adds.

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First, the vaccine proved to have prophylactic effects, says the university. The vaccine was injected into healthy mice, and an injection of melanoma cells followed, according to its statement.

“The result was that the mice did not get sick, meaning that the vaccine prevented the disease,” says Prof. Satchi-Fainaro.

Then, “a combination of the innovative vaccine and immunotherapy treatments was tested on melanoma model mice. The synergistic treatment significantly delayed the progression of the disease and greatly extended the lives of all treated mice,” says TAU.

Finally, the researchers “validated their approach on tissues taken from patients with melanoma brain metastases. This suggested that the nano-vaccine can be used to treat brain metastases as well,” according to the university statement.

“Our research opens the door to a completely new approach – the vaccine approach – for effective treatment of melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the disease,” concludes Prof. Satchi-Fainaro. “We believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines.”