Predicting patient and tumor specific mutations through algorithms

Mainz, Germany, February 8, 2013 – TRON together with the Institute for Immunology at University Medical Center Mainz and Ribological GmbH has been granted a total of 1.35 Mio Euro to develop a systems biology predictive algorithm to identify immunogenic tumor anitgens. The grant is awarded by “e:Bio Innovatonswettbewerb Systembiologie” of the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.

The joint project aims to integrate quantitative transcriptional and proteomic data, protein characterization, and existing antigen processing models into a model that will allow the quantitative prediction of peptides presented by MHC class I molecules on the cell surface for the recognition by T cells, termed MHC class I ligandome. The resultant predictive model will provide the basis for necessary prioritization of potentially tumor-protective CTL epitopes based on proteomics as required for personalized cancer immunotherapy.

The collaboration is part of a strategy to develop, produce, clinically test, and commercialize cancer vaccines for immune-therapeutic targeting of cancer specific targets, including selectively expressed cancer genes and somatic cancer mutations. A given tumor will contain 10s to 100s of somatic mutations and selectively expressed genes. An optimal vaccine would encode peptides derived from those genes and mutations that are presented on tumor MHC molecules.

“Knowledge of these peptide ligands presented on MHC molecules is crucial for our efforts to develop T-cell vaccines for disease such as cancer and infectious diseases”, explains Prof. Ugur Sahin, Managing Director Science and Research of TRON. “By integrating systems biology with immunology, cutting-edge biotechnology, and immunotherapy drug development, we will improve the understanding of MHC peptide presentation and improve our ability to create immunotherapies for clinical use, particularly individualized vaccines, that can be produced quickly and on-demand.”

All partners are co-located in Mainz, with many laboratories in the same building, and expect that the funding will strengthen ties between the partners and enable further investigations in this field.