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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013 Mar;6(3):173-6. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0011. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

Personalized immune-interception of cancer and the battle of two adaptive systems--when is the time right?

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Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, Box 208028, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


A growing body of evidence points to a coevolutionary model of cancer, wherein the cross-talk between tumor cells (or their subclones) and the host determine the malignant potential of individual tumors. Most of this natural history is clinically invisible and includes preneoplastic states. The capacity of the immune system to recognize these incipient lesions provides the basis for targeting them immunologically to arrest the development of preneoplasia toward clinical cancer. Kimura and colleagues provide evidence of immunogenicity of a potential cancer vaccine in patients with a history of advanced colon adenomas. These studies provide proof-of-principle or feasibility of such an approach in the clinic. Here, we discuss emerging opportunities and challenges in harnessing the immune system to "intercept" the precursor or preneoplastic lesions. Both cancer cells as well as the immune system represent independent and complex systems with plasticity and adaptive potential. It is therefore likely that specific aspects of the cross-talk between tumor cells and host may differ between individual tumors and determine the evolution of both tumors and the host response. We try to make the case to consider individualized approaches based on the genetic make-up of tumor cells and properties of the host response. Such strategies may be needed to optimally position the immune system to prevent cancers.

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