Loki Therapeutics Treats Cancer by Altering Appearance

Numerous companies research how to cure cancer, most taking the approach of designing the cure itself to match the cancer. Loki Therapeutics has some out of the box thinking, and is looking at using childhood vaccines to attack cancer cells.

After receiving a vaccine, our body develops memory T-cells. These T-cells remember what their target virus looks like and activate the immune system when they come across an invader that matches the description. So if cancer cells resemble something we already have a vaccine for, our immune system will attack it. Loki Therapeutics is developing a method to cosmetically alter the appearance of cancer cells. They are specifically trying to make cancer cells look like tetanus cells. The method involves using weakened Listeria monocytogenes. These will transport a tetanus toxoid antigen from a childhood vaccine. The weakened listeria won’t harm the patient, but infects tumor cells and tricks them into expressing the tetanus antigen. This trickery inspired the company’s name – Loki is the Norse god of trickery. Their method could begin Phase 1 trials in 2021 for both pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

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