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Clin Dev Immunol. 2011;2011:894704. doi: 10.1155/2011/894704. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

The immune response to tumors as a tool toward immunotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.


Until recently cancer medical therapy was limited to chemotherapy that could not differentiate cancer cells from normal cells. More recently with the remarkable mushroom of immunology, newer tools became available, resulting in the novel possibility to attack cancer with the specificity of the immune system. Herein we will review some of the recent achievement of immunotherapy in such aggressive cancers as melanoma, prostatic cancer, colorectal carcinoma, and hematologic malignancies. Immunotherapy of tumors has developed several techniques: immune cell transfer, vaccines, immunobiological molecules such as monoclonal antibodies that improve the immune responses to tumors. This can be achieved by blocking pathways limiting the immune response, such as CTLA-4 or Tregs. Immunotherapy may also use cytokines especially proinflammatory cytokines to enhance the activity of cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) derived from tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). The role of newly discovered cytokines remains to be investigated. Alternatively, an other mechanism consists in enhancing the expression of TAAs on tumor cells. Finally, monoclonal antibodies may be used to target oncogenes.

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