Recent developments in therapeutic cancer vaccines

Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2005 Feb;2(2):108-13. doi: 10.1038/ncponc0098.


Therapeutic cancer vaccines are being developed with the intention of treating existing tumors or preventing tumor recurrence. While the results of clinical trials, predominantly in the metastatic setting have been sobering, the central hypothesis of active immunotherapy i.e. that the human immune system can be activated to recognize and destroy tumor cells, remains a viable one. We believe that a fundamental shift in how clinical trials are performed, and what concepts they test is required to make meaningful strides towards future clinical use of cancer vaccines. First, we must reappraise whether the metastatic setting is the appropriate arena to test these agents. Second, we must arrive at a consensus on the most important biologic endpoints and rapidly test vaccines for their ability to achieve these endpoints. Third, we need to expend more effort on understanding how to manipulate the immune system beyond the initial stimulation provided by a vaccine. Fourth, in order to permit comparison of results across different studies, it would be helpful to narrow down the large number of vaccine platforms. We will discuss the current state of development of cancer vaccines and the relevance for future clinical use of these agents to treat and prevent cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dendritic Cells
  • Endpoint Determination
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Research Design


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines