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Update Cancer Ther. 2007 Mar;2(1):33-39.

Combining Vaccines with Conventional Therapies for Cancer.

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Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Preclinical and clinical investigations currently underway are employing novel strategies for combining vaccines with conventional and experimental anticancer therapies. To date, the FDA has not approved a therapeutic cancer vaccine. However, the results of recent investigations suggest an increasing role for vaccines in new models of combination therapy for many types of cancer. This article reviews and discusses therapeutic cancer strategies that employ vaccines in combination with local radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and anti-CTLA-4 mAb. Preclinical studies have shown that certain anticancer agents have immune modulatory effects that result in up-regulation of surface expression of MHC molecules, tumor-associated antigens, or Fas on malignant cells, rendering them more susceptible to immune destruction. Preliminary results of clinical studies using combination strategies have demonstrated a postvaccination antigen cascade, prolonged time to disease progression, and improved overall survival. Several larger randomized trials are ongoing, and more are required to support these findings.

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