HPV Research Team - Stand Up To Cancer

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SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team:
Therapeutic CD8 Vaccines Against
Conserved E7 HPV Epitopes Identified by MS

Grant Term: July 2014–June 2019

The SU2C–Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Research Team focuses on patients with HPV-driven cancers (including cervical, anal, and head and neck cancer) who relapse following initial therapy. The team aims to develop novel immunotherapy approaches that will address this important unmet clinical need.


Once a cancer-causing type of HPV has established itself, immune cells called cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are required to eradicate the virus-infected precancerous or cancerous cells. CTLs recognize “tags” on the surface of other cells. More specifically, molecules on the CTLs called T cell receptors (TCRs) detect cell tags called epitopes. Using their TCRs, CTLs can distinguish between normal and abnormal cells with great specificity.

Members of the team have developed a novel method to find epitopes on cancer cells that are entirely specific for the cancer and hence not found on normal cells in the body. CTLs in the patient’s body can be programmed by vaccination to detect these epitopes and then attack and kill the cancer cells to which they are attached. One epitope CTL target that the team has already identified has been incorporated into a potential therapeutic vaccine. The team is testing this vaccine in patients in a clinical trial as part of the support received from Stand Up To Cancer.


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