Indexed on: 13 Jul '11Published on: 13 Jul '11Published in: Biotechnology Advances
DNA vaccination has been widely explored to develop new, alternative and efficient vaccines for cancer immunotherapy. DNA vaccines offer several benefits such as specific targeting, use of multiple genes to enhance immunity and reduced risk compared to conventional vaccines. Rapid developments in molecular biology and immunoinformatics enable rational design approaches. These technologies allow construction of DNA vaccines encoding selected tumor antigens together with molecules to direct and amplify the desired effector pathways, as well as highly targeted vaccines aimed at specific epitopes. Reliable predictions of immunogenic T cell epitope peptides are crucial for rational vaccine design and represent a key problem in immunoinformatics. Computational approaches have been developed to facilitate the process of epitope detection and show potential applications to the immunotherapeutic treatment of cancer. In this review a number of different epitope prediction methods are briefly illustrated and effective use of these resources to support experimental studies is described. Epitope-driven vaccine design employs these bioinformatics algorithms to identify potential targets of vaccines against cancer. In this paper the selection of T cell epitopes to develop epitope-based vaccines, the need for CD4(+) T cell help for improved vaccines and the assessment of vaccine performance against tumor are reviewed. We focused on two applications, namely prediction of novel T cell epitopes and epitope enhancement by sequence modification, and combined rationale design with bioinformatics for creation of new synthetic mini-genes. This review describes the development of epitope-based DNA vaccines and their antitumor effects in preclinical research against B-cell lymphoma, corroborating the usefulness of this platform as a potential tool for cancer therapy. Achievements in the field of DNA vaccines allow to overcome hurdles to clinical translation. In a scenario where the vaccine industry is rapidly changing from a mostly empirical approach to a rational design approach, these new technologies promise to discover and develop high-value vaccines, creating a new opportunity for future markets.