Senescent Cells as a Cancer Vaccine

Researchers here note the discovery that vaccinating mice with senescent cancer cells ensures that the immune system will more aggressively attack a later introduction of cancerous cells. Since we know that most cancer therapies induce senescence in cancerous cells to a fair degree, one has to think that the effectiveness of this approach will diminish as a cancer progresses to form a solid tumor and co-opts the immune system in various ways. Still, it sounds as though it could be a potentially useful after, for example, surgical resection of a tumor, to help reduce the odds that the cancer will reoccur.

Scientists have studied how inducing senescence in cancer cells improves the effectiveness of the immune response to a greater degree than the dead cancer cells. After vaccinating healthy mice with senescent cancer cells and then stimulating the formation of tumours, the researchers observed that the animals did not develop cancer or that the number that do is significantly reduced. They also analysed the efficacy of vaccination in animals that had already developed tumours. In this setting, although the results were more moderate due to the protective barrier of the tumour, improvements were also observed.

The researchers tested the technique in animal models of melanoma, a type of cancer characterised by high activation of the immune system, and also in pancreatic cancer models, which present strong barriers against immune cells. Prophylactic vaccination therapy with senescent cancer cells was effective against both types of tumors. They also complemented the study with tumour samples from cancer patients and confirmed that human cancer cells also have a greater capacity to activate the immune system when they are previously rendered senescent. The group is now studying the combined efficacy of vaccination with senescent cells and immunotherapy treatments.



Fascinating. Presumably this would work by taking a biopsy of the cancer, processing it then filtering it isolate the senescent cells, then injecting them.

Posted by: JohnD at November 9th, 2022 12:57 PM

JohnD: Agreed - and this could work even better by *inducing* senescence in the biopsied cancer cells ex vivo (e.g., with IR or CTX), then injecting them.

Posted by: Edward F Greenberg at November 13th, 2022 8:51 AM
Comment Submission

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.