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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2011, Article ID 134020, 10 pages
Review Article

Conversion of Tumors into Autologous Vaccines by Intratumoral Injection of -Gal Glycolipids that Induce Anti-Gal/ -Gal Epitope Interaction

Department of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA

Received 13 July 2011; Accepted 5 September 2011

Academic Editor: Trina J. Stewart

Copyright © 2011 Uri Galili. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Anti-Gal is the most abundant antibody in humans, constituting 1% of immunoglobulins. Anti-Gal binds specifically α-gal epitopes (Galα1-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc-R). Immunogenicity of autologous tumor associated antigens (TAA) is greatly increased by manipulating tumor cells to express α-gal epitopes and bind anti-Gal. Glycolipids with αgal epitopes (α-gal glycolipids) injected into tumors insert into the tumor cell membrane. Anti-Gal binding to the multiple α-gal epitopes de novo presented on the tumor cells results in targeting of these cells to APC via the interaction between the Fc portion of the bound anti-Gal and Fcγ; receptors on APC. The APC process and present immunogenic TAA peptides and thus, effectively activate tumor specific CD4+ helper T cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T cells which destroy tumor cells in micrometastases. The induced immune response is potent enough to overcome immunosuppression by Treg cells. A phase I clinical trial indicated that α-gal glycolipid treatment has no adverse effects. In addition to achieving destruction of micrometastases in cancer patients with advance disease, α-gal glycolipid treatment may be effective as neo-adjuvant immunotherapy. Injection of α-gal glycolipids into primary tumors few weeks prior to resection can induce a protective immune response capable of destroying micrometastases expressing autologous TAA, long after primary tumor resection.