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Immunol Rev. 2008 Apr;222:70-100. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2008.00603.x.

Immunotherapy of malignant brain tumors.

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Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Duke, NC 27710, USA.


Despite aggressive multi-modality therapy including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the prognosis for patients with malignant primary brain tumors remains very poor. Moreover, the non-specific nature of conventional therapy for brain tumors often results in incapacitating damage to surrounding normal brain and systemic tissues. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of therapeutic strategies that precisely target tumor cells while minimizing collateral damage to neighboring eloquent cerebral cortex. The rationale for using the immune system to target brain tumors is based on the premise that the inherent specificity of immunologic reactivity could meet the clear need for more specific and precise therapy. The success of this modality is dependent on our ability to understand the mechanisms of immune regulation within the central nervous system (CNS), as well as counter the broad defects in host cell-mediated immunity that malignant gliomas are known to elicit. Recent advances in our understanding of tumor-induced and host-mediated immunosuppressive mechanisms, the development of effective strategies to combat these suppressive effects, and a better understanding of how to deliver immunologic effector molecules more efficiently to CNS tumors have all facilitated significant progress toward the realization of true clinical benefit from immunotherapeutic treatment of malignant gliomas.

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