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Clin Dermatol. 2013 Mar-Apr;31(2):179-90. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2012.08.005.

Vaccines against advanced melanoma.

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1
Department of Immunology, and Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT 06030-1601, USA.

Abstract

Research shows that cancers are recognized by the immune system but that the immune recognition of tumors does not uniformly result in tumor rejection or regression. Quantitating the success or failure of the immune system in tumor elimination is difficult because we do not really know the total numbers of encounters of the immune system with the tumors. Regardless of that important issue, recognition of the tumor by the immune system implicitly contains the idea of the tumor antigen, which is what is actually recognized. We review the molecular identity of all forms of tumor antigens (antigens with specific mutations, cancer-testis antigens, differentiation antigens, over-expressed antigens) and discuss the use of these multiple forms of antigens in experimental immunotherapy of mouse and human melanoma. These efforts have been uniformly unsuccessful; however, the approaches that have not worked or have somewhat worked have been the source of many new insights into melanoma immunology. From a critical review of the various approaches to vaccine therapy we conclude that individual cancer-specific mutations are truly the only sources of cancer-specific antigens, and therefore, the most attractive targets for immunotherapy.

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