Heat shock protein-based cancer vaccines

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2004 Aug;3(4):403-11. doi: 10.1586/14760584.3.4.403.


Heat shock proteins (HSPs) exist ubiquitously across all species and function as chaperones stabilizing and delivering peptides. Tumor-derived HSP-peptide complex has been known to induce immunity against the original tumor in preclinical studies. HSP-based vaccines work across tumor types and bypass the need for identifying the responsible peptide(s) for inducing immunity. These vaccines are tumor- and patient-specific in that they capture the tumor cells' fingerprints. HSP-based vaccines have been studied in early phase clinical trials, mostly using HSP glycoprotein 96, for various types of malignancies including melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer, low-grade lymphoma, colorectal cancer and chronic myelogenous leukemia. All showed minimal toxicity and potential efficacy. Phase III studies for melanoma and renal cell carcinoma are ongoing. HSP-based vaccines are a novel vaccine preparation with a promising role in cancer management. Further studies to determine the administering strategy and specific indication are warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Heat-Shock Proteins