Antigen-specific vaccines for cancer treatment

Maria Tagliamonte, Annacarmen Petrizzo, Maria Lina Tornesello, Franco M Buonaguro, Luigi Buonaguro
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics 2014, 10 (11): 3332-46
Vaccines targeting pathogens are generally effective and protective because based on foreign non-self antigens which are extremely potent in eliciting an immune response. On the contrary, efficacy of therapeutic cancer vaccines is still disappointing. One of the major reasons for such poor outcome, among others, is the difficulty of identifying tumor-specific target antigens which should be unique to the tumors or, at least, overexpressed on the tumors as compared to normal cells. Indeed, this is the only option to overcome the peripheral immune tolerance and elicit a non toxic immune response. New and more potent strategies are now available to identify specific tumor-associated antigens for development of cancer vaccine approaches aiming at eliciting targeted anti-tumor cellular responses. In the last years this aspect has been addressed and many therapeutic vaccination strategies based on either whole tumor cells or specific antigens have been and are being currently evaluated in clinical trials. This review summarizes the current state of cancer vaccines, mainly focusing on antigen-specific approaches.

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