It remains challenging to produce decisive vaccines against MUC1, a tumor-Associated antigen widely expressed by pancreas, breast and other tumors. Employing clinically relevant mouse models, we ruled out such causes as irreversible T-cell tolerance, inadequate avidity, and failure of T-cells to recognize aberrantly glycosylated tumor MUC1. Instead, every tested MUC1 preparation, even non-glycosylated synthetic 9mer peptides, induced interferon gamma-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells that recognized glycosylated variants including tumor-Associated MUC1. Vaccination with synthetic peptides conferred protection as long as vaccination was repeated post tumor challenge. Failure to revaccinate post challenge was associated with down-regulated tumor MUC1 and MHC molecules. Surprisingly, direct admixture of MUC1-expressing tumor with MUC1-hyperimmune T-cells could not prevent tumor outgrowth or MUC1 immunoediting, whereas ex vivo activation of the hyperimmune T-cells prior to tumor admixture rendered them curative. Therefore, surrogate T-cell preactivation outside the tumor bed, either in culture or by repetitive vaccination, can overcome tumor escape.
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