Acute leukemias (AL) are lethal hematologic cancers that affect both children and adults. The laboratory of Dr. Perreault aims to develop therapeutic vaccines against ALs. Therefore, they need to discover molecules that are present only on AL cells and that can be recognized by the immune system. To this end, Dr. Perreault’s team has developed a disruptive method based on next generation sequencing, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics. Using this proteogenomic method, they have discovered mouse leukemia antigens that elicit strong protective immune response and lead to elimination of leukemic cells. Using this unique method, they now wish to discover leukemia antigens that can be used as therapeutic AL vaccines.
In order to develop therapeutic AL vaccines, his team must complete three tasks. First, using a cutting edge proteogenomic method, they will discover the repertoire of AL-specific antigens present on 40 AL samples. Second, they will evaluate the ability of each antigen to stimulate immune cells from healthy subjects and from patients with AL. Their third objective is to engineer potent vaccines against these antigens. Preventive vaccines against various pathogens represent the most cost-effective way to save lives. Accordingly, development of therapeutic vaccines against cancer in general, and AL in particular, has been the holy grail of immunologists and oncologists for decades. Dr. Perreault believes that almost anybody would wholeheartedly trade a course of chemotherapy for a vaccine. Therefore, the discovery of immunogenic AL-specific antigens would have a transformative impact on treatment of ALs.