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Crit Rev Oncog. 1999;10(3):247-60.

The immune system as anti-tumor sentinel: molecular requirements for an anti-tumor immune response.

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  • 1The University of Chicago, Department of Pathology, IL 60637, USA.


The concept behind immune surveillance against cancer is that tumor cells continuously develop, but that there may not be clinical evidence of their presence because the immune system recognizes the cells as foreign and destroys them. A clear role for the immune system in preventing and/or eliminating tumors is emerging as insights into the molecular requirements for the induction and effector function of cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) have been gained. Using murine tumor rejection models, the role of particular molecular components of the immune system in controlling tumor growth has been defined. However, tumor rejection does not always occur spontaneously in vivo, indicating that defects in the generation or execution of an anti-tumor immune response may be common. Understanding defects when they arise should allow for development of new therapeutic approaches in tumor-bearing individuals. Many clinical studies are underway to test strategies to induce or heighten an antitumor immune response in cancer patients.

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