Researchers in the Netherlands investigate therapeutic vaccine for liver cancer

June 2022 Science Nalinee Pandey
Vector illustration of human liver with faceted low-poly geometry effect

The Dutch cancer society (KWF) has awarded 8.6 million euros to researchers from the cancer center in Amsterdam. The research team will develop a liposomal vaccine for optimal activation of liver killer T-cells to eliminate liver cancer.

Liver cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers and a leading cause of death. Furthermore, many cancers such as colon cancer usually metastasise to the liver, resulting in poorer clinical outcomes. Despite available treatment approaches, the disease has a poor prognosis, and thus new treatment options are urgently needed.

Killer T-cells

In recent years, strategies activating immune cells against cancer have been at the forefront of cancer immunotherapy. Here the researchers will be working on a state-of-the-art vaccine where the vaccine will work in two steps. The first step involves activating cytotoxic-T cells (‘killer T-cells’) in the lymph nodes or the spleen. In the second step, these cells need to be attracted to the liver, where they can kill the tumour cells.

“We aim to develop a vaccine that stimulates strong liver resident cytotoxic T-cell responses and attack both primary liver cancer and colorectal liver metastases,” says project leader Dr Joke den Haan, associate professor of cellular immunology., “This vaccine hopefully may one day improve survival rates from liver cancer when used in combination with other immunotherapies.”

The outcomes of this research will benefit liver cancer patients and help treat other tumours that metastasise to the liver.


Press release from Amsterdam UMC