Ampligen: A potential toll-like 3 receptor adjuvant for immunotherapy of cancer

B. Jasani, H. Navabi, M. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Therapeutic vaccination against cancer-associated antigens represents an attractive option for cancer therapy in view of its potential efficacy, the possibility of long-lasting immunity against the cancer, and safety profile. Cancer patients are however usually immunosuppressed and most cancer-associated antigens are 'self-antigens', making it a significant challenge to vaccinate patients against a cancer-associated antigen. Various immunostimulant adjuvants are therefore under investigation in an effort to boost the immune system to overcome the tolerance to tumour associated self-antigens and the ambient immunosuppressory influence of cytokines and regulatory T-cells (Tregs). Many adjuvants appear to be specific ligands for toll-like receptors (TLR) which are potent activators of innate immune responses [Kwissa M, Kasturi SP, Pulendran B. Expert Rev Vaccines. The Science of Adjuvants 2007 6(October(5)):673-84] [1], activating dendritic cell (DC) maturation and inflammatory cytokine secretion, inducing an increase in the cross talk between the innate and adaptive immune systems, and thereby driving the expansion of CTLs that can destroy cancer cells. However, recently some TLR agonists such as CpG have been shown to generate parallel immunosuppressive and inflammatory responses in innate immune cells capable of induction and expansion of Tregs [Conroy H, Marshall NA, Mills KH. TLR ligand suppression or enhancement of Treg cells? A double-edged sword in immunity to tumours. Oncogene 2008 27(January 7(2)):168-80 [2]; Huang B, Zhao J, Unkeless JC, Feng ZH, Xiong H TLR signaling by tumor and immune cells: a double-edged sword. Oncogene 2008;27(2):218-24] [3]. In this context it is noteworthy that poly(I:C), a synthetic double-stranded RNA polymer and a TLR3 agonist, has been shown in mouse models to be capable of enhancing the T cell response to nonimmunogenic self-antigen linked dendritic cell based vaccine strategy, and stimulating diabetic insulitis in the presence of Tregs [Hornum L, Lundsgaard D, Markholst H. PolyI:C induction of diabetes is controlled by Iddm4 in rats with a full regulatory T cell pool. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2007;1110:65-72] [4]. Ampligen poly(I:C12U) is a GMP-grade synthetic analogue of poly(I:C) and therefore suitable for human use. Its effects in a preclinical setting have been recently tested to be similar to poly(I:C) [Hornum L, Lundsgaard D, Markholst H. PolyI:C induction of diabetes is controlled by Iddm4 in rats with a full regulatory T cell pool. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2007;1110:65-72]. In particular, it potently induces in vitro maturation of human monocyte derived DC with sustained bioactive IL12 production. In addition human monocyte derived DC primed with tumour lysate and matured with Ampligen are capable of generating Th1 specific anti-cancer responses in peripheral blood T-cells derived from cancer patients in the presence of ascites medium containing immunosuppressory cytokines. In this review the key findings are summarised and discussed with a view to offering a rationale for the use of Ampligen as a potentially safe adjuvant capable of overcoming the tumour-related immune tolerance mechanisms in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3401-3404
Number of pages4
Issue number25-26
Publication statusPublished - May 26 2009


  • Cancer
  • Immunotherapy
  • Poly (I:CU)
  • Toll-like 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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