The team is composed of The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and The Harvard Medical School.
The vaccine, unlike today available therapeutic cancer vaccines, which require doctors to first remove the patient’s immune cells from the body, reprogram them and reintroduce them into the body, is implanted under the skin. It is a disc-shaped biodegradable sponge made from FDA-approved polymers, laded with cytokines and melanoma-specific antigens. The cytokines attracts dendritic cells and the melanoma antigens prime the dendritic cells to recognize them as foreign. The dendritic cells then leave the sponge and present the antigens to other immune system cells, which actually seek out and attack the cancer cells.
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