ARTICLE | Tools & Techniques

Trypping up tumors

January 12, 2012 8:00 AM UTC

A major limitation of many cancer immunotherapies is their inability to trigger a potent CD8+ T cell response, which is critical for battling different types of tumors. Brazilian and U.S. researchers may have solved the problem by using an attenuated form of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi to express and deliver cancer antigens.1 Their prototype immunotherapy stimulated a potent antitumor response in mice, and the team now is taking steps to ensure the safety of the platform.

T. cruzi has a number of features that make it stand out as a potential cancer immunotherapy.2,3 First, T. cruzi is able to persist in host tissue and thus can support a sustained immune response. Second, the parasite presents antigen in a way that induces a strong CD8+ T cell response. Third, the parasite naturally expresses activating ligands of toll-like receptors (TLRs), which could make the use of adjuvants unnecessary...