ImMucin is a 21mer synthetic vaccine composed of the entire signal peptide domain of the MUC1 protein. ImMucin is intended to stimulate the patient's own immune system to control cancer by means of reacting to the natural corresponding MUC1 antigen as expressed on the surface of cancer cells.
ImMucin possesses several unique characteristics:
> Novel unexplored sequence: Unlike other vaccines which target the entire MUC1 protein or the large extracellular TRA domain, ImMucin is a small and defined domain which is expressed only on tumor cells and not in the blood stream and therefore does not contain any non-specific epitopes, that could reduce specific anti–cancer immunity. ImMucin was shown to selectively be expressed on tumor cells in association with MHC molecules, thereby ensuring specific anti-cancer activity.
> Improved immunogenicity: ImMucin was selected due to its unique ability to bind multiple MHC Class I and Class II alleles. This characteristic offer;
a) A broader immunity by multiple T cell clones both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells using a single sequence.
b) An immunological response in the majority of the target patients i.e. covering most of the MHC allelic repertoire among the Caucasian (western) population. That is to say, ImMucin will be applicable to the entire population vs. 25-40% of the population in most MUC1 peptide vaccines.
> Sequence specific Adjuvant: Unlike other peptide vaccines, which are poor immunogens, ImMucin has an internal antigen-specific "adjuvant–like" properties which can reduce the need for additional external adjutants.
> TAP-Independent presentation: ImMucin contains TAP-independent machinery for transporting its epitope into the ER and can therefore efficiently deal with immune escape mechanism mediated by cancer cells. To the best of our knowledge, this crucial phenotype is not shared by most other vaccines.
Extensive preclinical studies have shown ImMucin to be highly effective in inducing a robust and broad T cell immunity against MUC1 expressing tumors in various in-vitro assays. Moreover, in invivo studies, the anti-MUC1 immunity induced by ImMucin was superior comparing with the other MUC1-dervied peptide epitopes including the antigen sequence in the BLP-25 vaccine (Merck AG) currently in Phase III studies.
ImMucin is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II clinical trial in Multiple Myeloma patients at the Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem and Rambam Medical center, Haifa, Israel.
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