Funded by the 2015 Wine Celebration Fund a Need, including donations raised by the Dick Vitale Gala and Bristol-Myers Squibb
Recent research revealed that malignant gliomas in children often have common gene mutations in a molecule named H3.3, which is a component of the human genome. Approximately 30% of pediatric glioblastoma and 70% of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) cases have the same mutation which causes a change in the H3.3 protein. The human immune system, such as T-lymphocytes (T-cells hereafter), do not normally react to normal proteins, but can recognize and attack cells that have abnormal proteins. Therefore, cancer-specific mutations can be suitable targets for cancer immunotherapy, such as cancer vaccines and adoptive T-cell transfer therapy (i.e., infusion of large number of T-cells). Indeed, immunotherapy using patients’ own T-cells that are engineered to recognize cancer cells have shown remarkable success in other cancers, such as acute lymphocytic leukemia in children. However, it is also important to ensure that those T-cells attack tumor cells but not normal cells. We recently found that the common mutation in H3.3 includes cytotoxic T cells which can kill glioma cells that have the mutation but not cells without the mutation. We are proposing two lines of translational studies. First, we will isolate genes for the T cell receptor which allows the specific recognition of mutated glioma cells. This will lead to a near future development of adoptive transfer immunotherapy. Concurrently, we will design and conduct a pilot vaccine trial using synthetic peptide for the mutated part of H3.3 in children with H3.3-mutated DIPG or high-grade glioma.