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Mucin-related carbohydrates are overexpressed on the surface of cancer cells, providing a disease-specific target for cancer immunotherapy. Here, we describe the design and construction of peptide-free multivalent glycosylated nanoscale constructs as potential synthetic cancer vaccines that generate significant titers of antibodies selective for aberrant mucin glycans. A polymerizable version of the Tn-antigen glycan was prepared and converted into well-defined glycopolymers by Reversible Addition-Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) polymerization. The polymers were then conjugated to gold nanoparticles, yielding 'multicopy-multivalent' nanoscale glycoconjugates. Immunological studies indicated that these nanomaterials generated strong and long-lasting production of antibodies that are selective to the Tn-antigen glycan and cross-reactive toward mucin proteins displaying Tn. The results demonstrate proof-of-concept of a simple and modular approach toward synthetic anticancer vaccines based on multivalent glycosylated nanomaterials without the need for a typical vaccine protein component.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





9362 - 9365


Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate, Cancer Vaccines, Gold, Metal Nanoparticles, Molecular Structure, Polymerization, Polymers