Background: Colorectal cancer is responsible for almost 700,000 deaths annually worldwide. Therapeutic vaccination is a promising alternative to conventional treatment for colorectal cancer, using vaccines to induce targeted immune responses against tumour-associated antigens. In this study, we have developed chimaeric virus-like particles (VLP), a form of non-infectious non-replicative subunit vaccine consisting of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) VP60 capsid proteins containing recombinantly inserted epitopes from murine topoisomerase IIα and survivin. These vaccines were developed in mono- (T.VP60, S.VP60) and multi-target (TS.VP60) forms, aiming to elucidate the potential benefits from multi-target vaccination. Methods: Chimaeric RHDV VLP were developed by recombinantly inserting immune epitopes at the N-terminus of VP60. Vaccines were tested against a murine model of colorectal cancer by establishing MC38-OVA tumours subcutaneously. Unmethylated CpG DNA oligonucleotides (CpGs) were used as a vaccine adjuvant. Statistical tests employed included the Mantel-Cox log-rank test, ANOVA and unpaired t-tests depending on the data analysed, with a post hoc Bonferroni adjustment for multiple measures. Results: Chimaeric RHDV VLP were found to form a composite particle in the presence of CpGs. Overall survival was significantly improved amongst mice bearing MC38-OVA tumours following vaccination with T.VP60 (60%, 9/15), S.VP60 (60%, 9/15) or TS.VP60 (73%, 11/15). TS.VP60 significantly prolonged the vaccine-induced remission period in comparison to each mono-therapy. Conclusions: Chimaeric VLP containing multiple epitopes were found to confer an advantage for therapeutic vaccination in a model of colorectal cancer based on the prolongation of remission prior to tumour escape.
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