The role of vaccine therapy in the treatment of melanoma

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2008 Mar;8(3):315-23. doi: 10.1517/14712598.8.3.315.


Background: Melanoma is a tumour that is usually resistant to systemic therapy. Since it has been considered to be a highly immunogenic tumour, it has become an excellent target for the active specific immunotherapy. Vaccine therapy represents a novel approach to the treatment of melanoma.

Objective: To evaluate different vaccines tested in stage III and/or IV melanoma patients.

Methods: Systematic review of the published evidence on vaccine therapy in melanoma.

Results: Melanoma vaccines can be classified into six groups: whole-cell vaccines, dendritic cell vaccines, peptide vaccines, ganglioside vaccines, DNA vaccines and viral vectors. The main characteristics of these vaccines including their advantages and disadvantages and the results from conducted trials are presented. Clinical responses to melanoma vaccines are still poor and currently there is no melanoma vaccine with a proven efficacy.

Conclusion: Vaccine therapy still remains an experimental therapy in patients with metastatic melanoma. Further research is required although a future therapy for advanced melanoma is probably a multimodal approach including vaccines, adjuvants and negative co-stimulatory blockade.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active / methods*
  • Immunotherapy, Active / trends
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Cancer Vaccines