Immunotherapy for lung cancer

J Thorac Oncol. 2008 Jun;3(6 Suppl 2):S164-70. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e318174e9a7.


Reports of tumor regression after infection date back as far as 1550 bc. In the twentieth century, Dr. William Coley, witnessing regression of a malignant tumor in one of his patients after a bacterial infection, developed the first cancer treatment vaccine derived from killed bacteria, with some reported success. However, despite decades of research, no specific, active tumor vaccine has been approved for the treatment of cancer. In lung cancer, initial attempts to modulate the immune system with nonspecific therapies were unsuccessful. However, more sophisticated specific vaccines have now been developed, and an increasing number are being evaluated in randomized phase 3 trials, raising hopes that vaccines may be an additional novel therapy for patients with lung cancer. This article reviews the following seven vaccines, which have entered randomized trials: L-BLP25 (Stimuvax), BEC-2, 1E10, PF-3512676 (Promune), melanoma-associated antigen A3 immunotherapeutic, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-transduced allogeneic cancer cellular immunotherapy, and belagenpumatucel-L (Lucanix).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / physiology
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines