TAPCells, the Chilean dendritic cell vaccine against melanoma and prostate cancer
Here we summarize 10 years of effort in the development of a biomedical innovation with global projections. This innovation consists of a novel method for the production of therapeutic dendritic-like cells called Tumor Antigen Presenting Cells (TAPCells®). TAPCells-based immunotherapy was tested in more than 120 stage III and IV melanoma patients and 20 castration-resistant prostate cancer patients in a series of phase I and I/II clinical trials. TAPCells vaccines induced T cell-mediated memory immune responses that correlated with increased survival in melanoma patients and prolonged prostate-specific antigen doubling time in prostate cancer patients. Importantly, more than 60% of tested patients showed a Delayed Type Hypersensitivity (DTH) reaction against the lysates, indicating the development of anti-tumor immunological memory that correlates with clinical benefits. The in vitro analysis of the lysate mix showed that it contains damage-associated molecular patterns such as HMBG-1 protein which are capable to improve, through Toll-like receptor-4, maturation and antigen cross-presentation of the dendritic cells (DC). In fact, a Toll-like receptor-4 polymorphism correlates with patient clinical outcomes. Moreover, Concholepas concholepas hemocyanin (CCH) used as adjuvant proved to be safe and capable of enhancing the immunological response. Furthermore, we observed that DC vaccination resulted in a three-fold increase of T helper-1 lymphocytes releasing IFN-γ and a two-fold increase of T helper-17 lymphocytes capable of producing IL-17 in DTH+ with respect to DTH- patients. Important steps have been accomplished for TAPCells technology transfer, including patenting, packaging and technology assessment. Altogether, our results indicate that TAPCells vaccines constitute an exceptional Chilean national innovation of international value.