A solid vaccine for liquid tumors

January 14, 2020

Biomaterial-based vaccine protects against acute myeloid leukemia in mice

The AML vaccine is composed of a cryogel matrix that includes chemicals to attract and activate the body’s dendritic cells, which can initiate an immune response against the cancer cells and provide lasting immunity against recurrence of the disease. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a blood cancer that originates in the bone marrow has been treated with chemotherapy for over 40 years. While the treatment does often cause the cancer to go into remission, it does not get rid of all the cancerous cells, so the disease comes back in nearly half of treated patients. Aggressive post-remission treatments, like high-dose chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants, can reduce the chance of recurrence, but many AML patients are not healthy enough to tolerate them.

New research from HSCI presents a promising alternative that has the potential to eliminate AML cells completely. Conducted in mice, the study showed that an injectable, biomaterial-based vaccine, in combination with chemotherapy, led to complete, lasting recovery from, and immunity against, AML. The study was led by HSCI co-director David Scadden and affiliate faculty member David Mooney, and is published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Cancer Research Institute, and the National Science Foundation.

Read the full story on the Wyss Institute website.

Discover more

Source article: Shah, N. J., Najibi, A. J., et al. (2020). A biomaterial-based vaccine eliciting durable tumour-specific responses against acute myeloid leukaemia. Nature Biomedical Engineering. DOI: 10.1038/s41551-019-0503-3