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Curr Opin Immunol. 2005 Jun;17(3):320-5.

Human tumor-specific T lymphocytes: does function matter more than number?

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  • 1Institute of Cellular Pathology, Universit√© catholique de Louvain, Avenue Hippocrate 74, UCL 7459, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


In recent years, several clinical trials have involved the vaccination of cancer patients with tumor-specific antigens that are recognized by T lymphocytes. Anti-vaccine T-cell responses in these patients have been monitored on the assumption that their magnitude would correlate with clinical efficacy. Although analysis of these data show that such a correlation is emerging, detailed analyses of the few patients who benefit clinically from the vaccinations suggest that the function of the anti-vaccine T cells might be more important than their number. Recent studies show that in cancer patients numerous tumor-specific T cells appear to be quiescent in the presence of the tumor. Understanding how an efficient vaccine interferes with this coexistence is one of the current challenges of cancer immunotherapy.

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