Antigen Presenting Cell (APC) vaccines rely on the ability of APCs to present tumor-specific antigens as foreign to the host immune system, and mobilize an immune response. In this cell-based therapy, APCs (primarily monocytes and dendritic cells) are initially harvested from the peripheral blood of patients. The harvested APCs are then cultured with the following:



After maturation and “priming” of the APCs ex vivo, they are transfused back into patients where they will elicit anti-tumor immune responses. After activation, they generate effector and memory T Cells to eliminate and surveil tumor recurrence.


Sipuleucel-T (Provenge®, Valeant) is an FDA-approved APC vaccine used to treat advanced prostate cancer. In this treatment regimen, monocytes are cultured ex vivo with the tumor antigen prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) linked to recombinant granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to promote maturation into dendritic cells. The patients then receive multiple injections of the cells. Clinical trials showed statistically significant improvement in survival rates amongst castrate-resistant, metastatic prostate cancer patients treated with Provenge® compared to placebo1.

A method to study antigen-specific T cells is the use of MHC tetramers (learn more about tetramer technology in our blog post). BioLegend offers Flex-T™ MHC Monomers and Tetramers, our unique reagents that allow peptide exchange by using ultraviolet light-sensitive peptides. The technology greatly facilitates multicolor tetramer flow. Learn more about our Flex-T™ products.

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Educational References
1. FDA: Highlights of prescribing information. Provenge® (sipuleucel-T) Suspension for Intravenous Infusion. Download the PDF