Immunogenic anti-cancer chemotherapy as an emerging concept

Curr Opin Immunol. 2008 Oct;20(5):545-57. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2008.05.008. Epub 2008 Jun 23.


Tumors can acquire mutations or hijack regulatory pathways of the host immune system to render them resistant to immune attack. Standard first line therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation were not thought to provoke natural immunity to cancer, but recent findings demonstrating that dying tumor cells present and release key signals to stimulate or evade neighboring leukocytes are challenging that view. Killing tumor cells in a manner that provides danger signals and tumor antigens in the right context promotes the engagement of innate and adaptive immunity; however, this response alone will not be effective against established cancer. Coincidently driving the immune response with specific monoclonal antibodies and other immunomodulators that activate and mature dendritic cells and co-stimulate T cells and other lymphocytes is one approach. Additionally releasing immune checkpoints and inhibiting tumor-derived molecules that prevent effective tumor immunity is another. Combined these approaches have enormous potential to improve the current outcomes from conventional cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition