A recombinant fusion cytokine that activates immune responses for use as a vaccine adjuvant or cancer therapy.
- Retains the immune stimulatory properties of both its parental molecules.
- Enhances the production of mast cells as compared to GM-CSF, IL-9, or GM-CSF and IL-9 co-administration.
Immunotherapy, or immune system stimulation, uses immunomodulators such as cytokines to trigger innate and adaptive immune responses. There are many immunomodulators currently on the market for a variety of indications. Recombinant cytokines are currently marketed as vaccine adjuvants, for immune recovery in immune-compromised patients, and as cancer therapies. A need exists for additional and adjunct therapeutic options for infectious diseases and cancer which combat the condition using a different strategy such as boosting the patient’s immune system.
Cytokines are small cell-signaling proteins with immunomodulatory properties. GM-CSF (cytokine granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor) and IL-9 (interleukin-9) are two such cytokines with immunostimulatory activities; GM-CSF affects adaptive immunity by promoting antigen presentation and co-stimulation by dendritic cells whereas IL-9 has important roles in T-cell and mast cell production. Both of these proteins have been studied in the past to boost the body’s immune response against cancer or to enhance the potency of vaccines. Drs. Galipeau and Deng at Emory University have engineered a novel fusion cytokine that combines GM-CSF and IL-9, named GIFT9, which is able to stimulate the production of mast cells in a synergistic manner when compared to simple GM-CSF and IL-9 co-administration. Treatment with recombinant IL-9 inhibits the growth of melanomas and other solid tumors in a mast cell dependent fashion and this effect may be enhanced by the fusion cytokine GIFT9. Given the role of mast cells in the immune system, GIFT9 could be used to expand mast cell populations for cellular type therapies or used directly as a therapeutic for treating conditions such as melanoma or chronic infections like HIV.
Proof-of-concept experiments show that GIFT9 treatment enhances the proliferation of mast cells as compared to GM-CSF and IL-9 co-administration in vitro.
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