Anticancer Vaccine Approaches Derived from Autologous and Allogeneic Tumor Cells

Many cancer vaccines currently being developed use autologous or allogeneic tumor cells as a source of antigen for immunizing patients. Live vaccines can be modified to enhance immunogenicity. Non-viable cell vaccines can be used as a source of antigenic peptides, RNA, or heat shock proteins.

An autologous tumor cell vaccine is derived from a patient's own tumor. It offers the potential to immunize against antigens generated by tumor-specific gene mutations. An allogeneic tumor vaccine is derived from a cancer cell line or another patient's tumor. Allogeneic tumor cells are a more reliable and uniform source of antigens for the preparation of vaccines. These vaccines target antigens that are shared between the cell lines in the vaccine and patients' tumors.

To avoid the possibility that live tumor cells may seed implants or metastasize, whole tumor cells are irradiated or otherwise killed before reinjection into patients. Thus, final preparations of autologous and allogeneic tumor cell vaccines in clinical use contain irradiated cells (e.g., CancerVax), tumor cell lysates (e.g., Melacine), hapten-treated cells (e.g., M-Vax), tumor cell extracts, or mixtures of these.

Manufacture of a tumor cell vaccine requires identity testing and assurance that the vaccine is replication incompetent. Whole-cell vaccines contain multiple antigens, and patient immune responses may occur to several different antigens, so it may be essential to test for multiple antigens in the final vaccine product. Flow cytometry, which can assess cell surface antigens on cells, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, which can identify unique cell line-associated DNA, can be used to verify that each of the cell lines is present in the final product. Proliferation assays (e.g., 3H-thymidine uptake) can be used to ensure that cells have been rendered replication incompetent.

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