Letter | Published:

A facile approach to enhance antigen response for personalized cancer vaccination

Nature Materialsvolume 17pages528534 (2018) | Download Citation


Existing strategies to enhance peptide immunogenicity for cancer vaccination generally require direct peptide alteration, which, beyond practical issues, may impact peptide presentation and result in vaccine variability. Here, we report a simple adsorption approach using polyethyleneimine (PEI) in a mesoporous silica microrod (MSR) vaccine to enhance antigen immunogenicity. The MSR–PEI vaccine significantly enhanced host dendritic cell activation and T-cell response over the existing MSR vaccine and bolus vaccine formulations. Impressively, a single injection of the MSR–PEI vaccine using an E7 peptide completely eradicated large, established TC-1 tumours in about 80% of mice and generated immunological memory. When immunized with a pool of B16F10 or CT26 neoantigens, the MSR–PEI vaccine eradicated established lung metastases, controlled tumour growth and synergized with anti-CTLA4 therapy. Our findings from three independent tumour models suggest that the MSR-PEI vaccine approach may serve as a facile and powerful multi-antigen platform to enable robust personalized cancer vaccination.

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The authors would like to thank C. J. Wu (Dana Farber Cancer Institute) for providing the human neoantigen peptides. We are also grateful to G. Dranoff, C. S. Verbeke, G. J. Xu and A. S. Cheung for their helpful discussions and feedback on the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01EB015498 and R01EB023287, the Melanoma Research Alliance Foundation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (AWL) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Author information


  1. John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Aileen Weiwei Li
    • , Miguel C. Sobral
    • , Maxence O. Dellacherie
    • , Ting-Yu Shih
    •  & David J. Mooney
  2. Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA

    • Aileen Weiwei Li
    • , Miguel C. Sobral
    • , Amanda Graveline
    • , Alexander G. Stafford
    • , James C. Weaver
    • , Maxence O. Dellacherie
    • , Ting-Yu Shih
    • , Omar A. Ali
    •  & David J. Mooney
  3. Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA

    • Soumya Badrinath
    •  & Kai W. Wucherpfennig
  4. School of Chemical Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Republic of Korea

    • Youngjin Choi
    •  & Jaeyun Kim
  5. Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Science & Technology (SAIHST), Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Republic of Korea

    • Jaeyun Kim
  6. Biomedical Institute for Convergence at SKKU (BICS), Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Republic of Korea

    • Jaeyun Kim


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A.W.L. and D.J.M. conceived the study, designed the experiments and wrote the manuscript, A.W.L., M.C.S., S.B., Y.C., A.G., A.G.S., J.C.W., M.O.D. and T-Y.S. carried out the experiments. S.B. and K.W.W. designed and carried out the TIL experiments. Y.C. and J.K. designed and carried out the TEM and MSR pore analysis experiments. O.A.A. contributed to the study design.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to David J. Mooney.

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