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The tumor-associated carbohydrate Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen (TF-Ag; Galβ 1-3GalNAc α-O-Ser/Thr) is overexpressed on the cell surface of several types of tumor cells, contributing to cancer cell adhesion and metastasis to sites containing TF-Ag-binding lectins. A highly specific immunoglobulin G3 monoclonal antibody (Ab) developed to TF-Af (JAA-F11) impedes TF-Ag binding to vascular endothelium, blocking a primary metastatic step and providing a survival advantage. In addition, in patients, even low levels of antibodies to TF-Ag seem to improve prognosis; thus, it is expected that vaccines generating antibodies toward TF-Ag would be clinically valuable. Unfortunately, vaccinations with protein conjugates of carbohydrate tumor-associated Ags have induced clinically inadequate immune responses. However, immunization using peptides that mimic carbohydrate Ags such as Lewis has resulted in both Ab and T-cell responses. Here, we tested the hypothesis that vaccinations with unique TF-Ag peptide mimics may generate immune responses to TF-Ag epitopes on tumor cells, useful for active immunotherapy against relevant cancers. Peptide mimics of TF-Ag were selected by phage display biopanning using JAA-F11 and rabbit anti-TF-Ag Ab and were analyzed in vitro to confirm TF-Ag peptide mimicry. In vitro, TF-Ag peptide mimics bound to specific peanut agglutinin and blocked TF-Ag mediated rolling and stable adhesion of cancer cells to vascular endothelium. In vivo, the immunization with TF-Ag-mimicking multiple antigenic peptides induced TF-Ag-reactive Ab production. We propose that this novel active immunotherapy approach could decrease tumor burden in cancer patients by specifically targeting TF-Ag-positive cancer cells and blocking metastasis.
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