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Blood. 2018 Jun 14;131(24):2640-2650. doi: 10.1182/blood-2017-11-785873. Epub 2018 May 4.

Vaccine therapy in hematologic malignancies.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.


Immune-based therapy has emerged as a paradigm shift in cancer therapy with dramatic responses observed in previously incurable disease. Cancer vaccines are being developed to disrupt tumor-associated tolerance and activate and selectively expand tumor-specific lymphocytes within the native effector cell repertoire while maintaining immune-regulatory protection against autoimmunity. Although individual antigen approaches result in immune response with a suggestion of clinical effect in some settings, broader efficacy may be dependent on presentation of multiple antigens that capture clonal diversity presented in the context of functionally potent antigen-presenting cells. The use of whole cell-based strategies such as dendritic cell/tumor fusions have yielded provocative results in single-arm studies and are currently being explored in multicenter randomized trials. The posttransplant setting is a potentially promising platform for vaccination due to cytoreduction and relative depletion of inhibitory accessory cells fostering greater immune responsiveness. Integration of these efforts with other immunotherapeutic strategies and agents that target the tumor microenvironment is being studied in an effort to generate durable immunologic responses with clinically meaningful impact on disease.

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