Monitoring the response to vaccination against melanoma

September 19, 2005

A new study published in PLoS Medicine this week describes a way to measure the immune response in people treated with an experimental vaccine to melanoma. The technique involves monitoring how individual immune cells isolated from the patient's blood respond to the vaccine by stimulating the cells on a biological chip and looking at a range of compounds they secrete.

The most surprising finding was the very wide range of responses seen in patients' cells. Although the numbers were small - just 10 patients who had been enrolled in a trial of vaccination against melanoma - the authors were able to pick out some patterns of responses by the cells that also determined how the patient responded clinically to the vaccine. For example in patients whose tumors did not get bigger their cells secreted two particular compounds - Interferon gamma and Tumour Necrosis factor alpha.

Tumor vaccination against melanoma is being extensively investigated and several different vaccines are being assessed in early clinical trials. Unlike vaccinations against infectious diseases however, different people respond very differently to these vaccines, and so far it has not been possible to predict who will and who will not respond. This technique may provide a better way of monitoring response to treatment.
Citation: Chen DS, Soen Y, Stuge TB, Lee PP, Weber JS, et al. (2005) Marked differences in human melanoma antigen-specific T cell responsiveness after vaccination using a functional microarray. PLoS Med 2(10): e265.

CONTACTS: Mark M. Davis +1-650-723-7962
+1-650-498-7771 (fax)

Daniel Chen
+1-650-743-1270 (fax)

Stanford University
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
279 Campus Drive
MC 5323 Room B221
Stanford, CA USA 94305-5323


All works published in PLoS Medicine are open access. Everything is immediately available without cost to anyone, anywhere--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use--subject only to the condition that the original authorship is properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.


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