Immunotherapy of HPV-associated cancer: DNA/plant-derived vaccines and new orthotopic mouse models

Aldo Venuti, Gianfranca Curzio, Luciano Mariani, Francesca Paolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Under the optimistic assumption of high-prophylactic HPV vaccine coverage, a significant reduction of cancer incidence can only be expected after decades. Thus, immune therapeutic strategies are needed for persistently infected individuals who do not benefit from the prophylactic vaccines. However, the therapeutic strategies inducing immunity to the E6 and/or E7 oncoprotein of HPV16 are more effective for curing HPV-expressing tumours in animal models than for treating human cancers. New strategies/technologies have been developed to improve these therapeutic vaccines. Our studies focussed on preparing therapeutic vaccines with low-cost technologies by DNA preparation fused to either plant-virus or plant-toxin genes, such as saporin, and by plant-produced antigens. In particular, plant-derived antigens possess an intrinsic adjuvant activity that makes these preparations especially attractive for future development. Additionally, discrepancy in vaccine effectiveness between animals and humans may be due to non-orthotopic localization of animal models. Orthotopic transplantation leads to tumours giving a more accurate representation of the parent tumour. Since HPV can cause cancer in two main localizations, anogenital and oropharynx area, we developed two orthotopic tumour mouse models in these two sites. Both models are bioluminescent in order to follow up the tumour growth by imaging and are induced by cell injection without the need to intervene surgically. These models were utilized for immunotherapies with genetic or plant-derived therapeutic vaccines. In particular, the head/neck orthotopic model appears to be very promising for studies combining chemo-radio-immune therapy that seems to be very effective in patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-1338
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2015


  • Cervical cancer
  • DNA vaccine
  • Head/neck cancer
  • HPV
  • PIVAC 14
  • Plant vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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