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Pathol Biol (Paris). 2011 Jun;59(3):173-82. doi: 10.1016/j.patbio.2009.04.002. Epub 2009 May 28.

[Anti-HER2 vaccines: The HER2 immunotargeting future?].

[Article in French]

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Inserm U896, CRLC Val-d'Aurelle Paul-Lamarque, institut de recherche en cancérologie de Montpellier (IRCM), université Montpellier-1, 34298 Montpellier cedex 5, France.


Breast cancer is a widely spread women's disease. In spite of progress in the field of surgery and adjuvant therapies, the risk of breast cancer metastatic relapses remains high especially in those overexpressing HER2. Different studies have shown cellular and/or humoral immune responses against HER2 in patients with HER2-overexpressing tumors. This immune response is associated with a lower tumor development at early stages of the disease. These observations, associated with the efficiency today demonstrated by a trastuzumab-based anti-HER2 immunotherapy, allowed to envisage various vaccinal strategies against HER2. These findings have so led to the hypothesis that the generation of an anti-HER2 immune response should protect patients from HER2-overexpressing tumor growth, and induction of a stable and strong immunity by cancer vaccines is expected to lead to establishment of immune memory, thereby preventing tumor recurrence. However, an immunological tolerance against HER2 antigen exists representing a barrier to effective vaccination against this oncoprotein. As a consequence, the current challenge for vaccines is to find the best conditions to break this immunological tolerance. In this review, we will discuss the different anti-HER2 vaccine strategies currently developed; considering the strategies having reached the clinical phases as well as those still in preclinical development. The used antigen can be composed of tumoral allogenic cells or autologous cells or be specific of HER2. It can be delivered by denditric cells or in a DNA, peptidic or proteic form. Another area of the research concerns the use of anti-idiotypic antibodies mimicking HER2.

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