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Front Biosci. 2005 Sep 1;10:2285-305.

Cancer vaccines: the challenge of developing an ideal tumor killing system.

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Department of Oncological and Surgical Sciences, University of Padova, via Giustiniani 2, 35128 Padova, Italy.


Despite the evidence that the immune system plays a significant role in controlling tumor growth in natural conditions and in response to therapeutic vaccination, cancer cells can survive their attack as the disease progresses and no vaccination regimen should be currently proposed to patients outside experimental clinical trials. Clinical results show that the immune system can be actively polarized against malignant cells by means of a variety of vaccination strategies, and that in some cases this is associated with tumor regression. This implies that under some unique circumstances, the naturally "dormant" immune effectors can actually be put at work and used as endogenous weapons against malignant cells. Consequently, the main challenge of tumor immunologists appears to lie on the ability of reproducing those conditions in a larger set of patients. The complexity of the immune network and the still enigmatic host-tumor interactions make these tasks at the same time challenging and fascinating. Recent tumor immunology findings are giving new impetus to the development of more effective vaccination strategies and might revolutionize the way of designing the next generation of cancer vaccines. In the near future, the implementation of these insights in the clinical setting and the completion/conduction of comparative randomized phase III trials will allow oncologists to define the actual role of cancer vaccines in the fight against malignancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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