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WCCS/EADO 2016 | Why uveal melanoma is a good candidate for vaccination and the importance of the abnormal ligandome

Gerold Schuler, MD of University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany discusses cancer vaccines and in particular, the potential to develop a vaccine for uveal melanoma at the 2016 World Congress on Cancers of the Skin (WCCS) and the Congress of the European Association of Dermato-Oncology (EADO) in Vienna, Austria. According to Prof. Schuler, there are many tumors for which tumor vaccines have not been tested because they are not immunogenic. However, the tumors that are not immunogenic are probably very promising for vaccination as there are no T-cells; this means that you can induce the T-cells with the vaccination and give checkpoint blockers. One example is the melanoma of the eye or uveal melanoma, which is very special. It has few mutations and is totally resistant to checkpoint blockade. According to Prof. Schuler, it is likely that there is little spontaneous anti-tumor immunity and that is probably in part because there are so few mutations. Mutations generate new antigens specific to the tumor, which can also be targeted with vaccines. Further, whenever you vaccinate someone, you also have to add checkpoint blockade as Prof. Schuler points out. It is also important to use better antigens; there are neoepitopes derived from mutated proteins in the tumor and the second type of better antigens is derived from proteins in the tumor that are not mutated. The latter type are also neoepitopes and in this context, Prof. Schuler explains the abnormal ligandome and its potential significance for melanoma and in particular, uveal melanoma.