Development of vaccine strategies for EBV-associated cancers, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL), is a major focus of our laboratory. One such strategy currently under consideration is based on specifically enhancing human immune response to EBV proteins expressed in these cancers. Since both these cancers express identical viral proteins, we anticipate that a common immunotherapeutic protocol may provide curative benefit to cancer-bearing patients. We have successfully identified immunogenic determinants from the EBV proteins expressed in NPC and HD and laboratory tests have shown that killer T cells specific for these determinants can efficiently kill these cancer cells. Using these viral determinants, we have desigend a therapeutic vaccine (referred to as E1-LMPpolyTM) which has been extensively tested in preclinical studies and has shown very promising results. It is anticipated that by mid 2007, we will initiate a series of Phase I clinical trials to test the efficacy of this therapeutic vaccine in NPC and HL patients. Various hospitals in Australia (e.g. Peter McCallam Cancer Institute, Princess Alexandra Hospital) and overseas (e.g. University of Hong Kong) will be participating in these multicentre clinical studies. In addition, our group is also negotiating with biotech companies to explore their potential involvement in the future development and commercialisation of this vaccine. Any potential companies interested in licensing E1-LMPpolyTM technology can contact QIMR Business Development Office or Tumour Immunology Laboratory.
(Corey Smith, Maher Gandhi and Rajiv Khanna)