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Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2004 Jan;4(1):11-21.

T cell-based therapies for EBV-associated malignancies.

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  • 1Cancer Research UK Institute for Cancer Studies, University of Birmingham, Vincent Drive, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with a number of human malignancies. The cells of these tumours express a range of EBV latent cycle gene products that have the potential to be exploited as targets for T cell-mediated immunological therapies. Considerable progress has been made in developing adoptive T cell transfer for EBV-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) and clinical experience clearly demonstrates that EBV-specific T cell responses can be used to treat this EBV-associated malignancy. Adoptive T cell therapies for other EBV-associated malignancies are less advanced, although encouraging data are starting to emerge. Adoptive T cell transfer, however, does require significant levels of specialist laboratory support. Large-scale treatment of patients in geographical areas with a high prevalence of EBV-associated malignancy is likely to require the development of therapeutic vaccination strategies, a number of which are in development at present. Although it remains to be seen whether long-lasting sterilising immunity to EBV could be achieved, an alternative vaccine-based approach would be to develop a prophylactic vaccine to protect against primary EBV infection.

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