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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Backbone-Modified Peptides as Cancer Vaccine Antigens

The goal of this research is to develop a new type of anti-tumor vaccine that can be used to treat cancer. This work is focused on prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States, but the strategy being pursued in this project could be extended to many other forms of cancer. The ideal cancer vaccine activates a component of the patient’s immune system, T cells, to destroy cancer cells. Cancer cells are recognized by virtue of protein fragments displayed on their surfaces. All cell surfaces display fragments of proteins present inside the cell. These fragments are termed “peptides” or “epitopes,” and they are presented on the cell surface by a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) protein. Cancer cells can be recognized and destroyed when their MHCs display unusual epitopes. The team is developing novel epitopes expected to cause very potent stimulation of anti-tumor T cells.


Sam Gellman, professor of chemistry



Douglas McNeel, professor of medicine