Development of a Virus-Like Particle-Based Anti-HER2 Breast Cancer Vaccine

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To develop a human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2)-specific cancer vaccine, using a plant virus-like particle (VLP) platform. Copper-free click chemistry and infusion encapsulation protocols were developed to prepare VLPs displaying the HER2-derived CH401 peptide epitope, with and without Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonists loaded into the interior cavity of the VLPs; Physalis mottle virus (PhMV)-based VLPs were used. After prime-boost immunization of BALB/c mice through subcutaneous administration of the vaccine candidates, sera were collected and analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the CH401-specific antibodies; Th1 vs. Th2 bias was determined by antibody subtyping and splenocyte assay. Efficacy was assessed by tumor challenge using DDHER2 tumor cells. We successful developed two VLP-based anti-HER2 vaccine candidates—PhMV-CH401 vs. CpG-PhMV-CH401; however, the addition of the CpG adjuvant did not confer additional immune priming. Both VLP-based vaccine candidates elicited a strong immune response, including high titers of HER2-specific immunoglobulins and increased toxicity of antisera to DDHER2 tumor cells. DDHER2 tumor growth was delayed, leading to prolonged survival of the vaccinated vs. naïve BALB/C mice. The PhMV-based anti-HER2 vaccine PhMV-CH401, demonstrated efficacy as an anti-HER2 cancer vaccine. Our studies highlight that VLPs derived from PhMV are a promising platform to develop cancer vaccines.

virus-like particle, cancer vaccine, HER2, CpG-ODN, breast cancer
Hu, H.; Steinmetz, N.F. Development of a Virus-Like Particle-Based Anti-HER2 Breast Cancer Vaccine. Cancers 2021, 13, 2909.