Researchers from the Technicon-Israel Institute of Technology and Sheba Medical Centre published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer in May 2022. They found that “large, soluble HLA-peptidomes” from “pleural effusions” can “serve as a rich source of biomarkers for tumour diagnosis and potential candidates for personalised immunotherapy”.  

HLA peptides are involved in the immune response to infections, and this publication revealed a methodology for purifying and analysing lung fluid to detect them. The process of purifying these peptides is “technically simple”, the study stated. Examining litres of fluid, the researchers discovered that the HLA peptides contain information that could be used to detect some types of lung cancer. Furthermore, they could be used to “create a cancer-fighting vaccine for specific patients”, according to Dr Michael Peled of Sheba Medical Centre. Addressing The Times of Israel, he stated that it was “important to emphasise that this is still at a research level”.  

The HLA peptides carry antigens originating in cancer cells and their environment and can be used to fight cancer. However, instead of staying in place they are carried away to lung fluid. Therefore, the next step for their research will be to retrieve them for therapeutic use in the patient. Professor Arie Admon from the Technicon-Israel Institute of Technology stated that these antigens could be used to “stimulate the immune system” to attack a tumour. Thus, they might form the basis of a therapeutic vaccine.  

The publication stated that the “proof-of-concept” study highlighted how “valuable information” can be retrieved from “immunopeptidome analysis of pleural fluids and cells”. The authors hope that their work will be “applied to improve immunotherapeutics design, diagnostics, prognostics, and personalised treatment”.  

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