T-cells, which hunt for traces of disease within other cells, work by identifying fragments of outsider proteins on a diseased cell’s surface and then go in for the literal kill.
With cancer, some of the mutated fragments of outsider proteins, called neoepitopes, can be recognized by T-cells and are ideal candidates for cancer vaccines. Unfortunately, those candidates are difficult to predict from genetic data alone.
A study published this month in Nature Chemical Biology by Brian Baker, the Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Structural Biology and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, and collaborator Alexandre Harari at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) in Lausanne, Switzerland shows that to improve those predictions and develop cancer vaccines, researchers need to think more about what neoepitopes look like in three dimensions.