Cancer – the primary Cause of Mortality

Cancer accounts for 1 in 4 of all deaths in industrial countries. Although advances in cancer treatment have been made, the majority of metastatic cancers remain incurable.

Epigenetic and genetic instability result in patient tumor heterogeneity and emergence of treatment resistance and tumor relapse. This explains the need for innovative concepts and mandates for personalized approaches to meet the high unmet medical need in cancer patients.

A new Concept

A new arising concept is to develop individualized cancer vaccines that acknowledge the heterogeneity of a patient’s tumor by targeting tumor-associated shared antigens as well as tumor specific mutations (unique antigens). Each individual tumor will trigger the target discovery and drug development to provide a truly personalized vaccine for each patient comprising of shared tumor antigens from a pre-furnished warehouse (WAREHOUSE vaccine) and unique antigens manufactured on-demand (MUTANOME vaccine). The concept will be clinically translated using recombinant antigen-encoding RNA as vaccine format which particularly supports the individualized vaccine approach.

The MERIT consortium will clinically translate this personalized approach within the project and deliver a clinical proof-of-concept of the novel approach for patients suffering from triple negative breast cancer.