A novel immunopeptidomic-based pipeline for the generation of personalized oncolytic cancer vaccines

Sara Feola, Jacopo Chiaro, Beatriz Martins, Salvatore Russo, Manlio Fusciello, Erkko Ylösmäki, Chiara Bonini, Eliana Ruggiero, Firas Hamdan, Michaela Feodoroff, Gabriella Antignani, Tapani Viitala, Sari Pesonen, Mikaela Grönholm, Rui M.M. Branca, Janne Lehtiö, Vincenzo Cerullo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Beside the isolation and identification of MHC-I restricted peptides from the surface of cancer cells, one of the challenges is eliciting an effective anti-tumor CD8+ T cell mediated response as part of therapeutic cancer vaccine. Therefore, the establishment of a solid pipeline for the downstream selection of clinically relevant peptides and the subsequent creation of therapeutic cancer vaccines are of utmost importance. Indeed, the use of peptides for eliciting specific anti-tumor adaptive immunity is hindered by two main limitations: the efficient selection of the most optimal candidate peptides and the use of a highly immunogenic platform to combine with the peptides to induce effective tumor-specific adaptive immune responses. Here, we describe for the first time a streamlined pipeline for the generation of personalized cancer vaccines starting from the isolation and selection of the most immunogenic peptide candidates expressed on the tumor cells and ending in the generation of efficient therapeutic oncolytic cancer vaccines. This immunopeptidomics-based pipeline was carefully validated in a murine colon tumor model CT26. Specifically, we used state-of-the-art immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometric methodologies to isolate >8000 peptide targets from the CT26 tumor cell line. The selection of the target candidates was then based on two separate approaches: RNAseq analysis and the HEX software. The latter is a tool previously developed by Chiaro et al. (1), able to identify tumor antigens similar to pathogen antigens, in order to exploit molecular mimicry and tumor pathogen cross-reactive T-cells in cancer vaccine development. The generated list of candidates (twenty-six in total) was further tested in a functional characterization assay using interferon-γ ELISpot (Enzyme-Linked Immunospot), reducing the number of candidates to six. These peptides were then tested in our previously described oncolytic cancer vaccine platform PeptiCRAd, a vaccine platform that combines an immunogenic oncolytic adenovirus (OAd) coated with tumor antigen peptides. In our work, PeptiCRAd was successfully used for the treatment of mice bearing CT26, controlling the primary malignant lesion and most importantly a secondary, non-treated, cancer lesion. These results confirmed the feasibility of applying the described pipeline for the selection of peptide candidates and generation of therapeutic oncolytic cancer vaccine, filling a gap in the field of cancer immunotherapy, and paving the way to translate our pipeline into human therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere71156
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ligandome
  • oncolytic vaccine
  • pipeline
  • viral mimicry


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