New method identifies proteins that trigger anti-tumour responses
Heidelberg – Individualised cancer immunotherapy holds great promise, but clinical results have been disappointing because the tumour antigens used to date have not been able to induce sufficiently strong immune responses. Now, German researchers at the University of Heidelberg have presented a novel automated method that is capable of comprehensively identifying candidate tumour proteins that spontaneously trigger strong immune responses (JCI, doi: 10.1172/JCI37646). The team headed by Christel Herold-Mende applied two-dimensional chromatography to fractionate the tumour proteome, and subsequently verified that these protein fractions activate tumour-specific memory immune cells. Applying this method to human cell lysates, the authors identified two previously unknown tumour proteins (transthyretin and calgranulin B/S100A9) that were targeted by the immune system in a patient with a malignant brain tumour. Herold-Mende et al. found that the immune system in 4 out of 10 other brain tumour patients also targeted these proteins. The method is reproducible, fast and inexpensive, and the authors hope that it will be suitable for identifying candidate tumour proteins for the development of individualised cancer immunotherapies.