The use of synthetic peptides as vaccines aimed at the induction of therapeutic CD8-positive T-cell responses against tumor cells initially experienced great enthusiasm, mostly because of advances in vaccine technology, including design, synthesis, and delivery. However, despite impressive results in animal models, the application of such vaccines in humans has met with only limited success. The therapeutic activity of vaccine-stimulated, tumor-specific, CD8-positive T cells can be hampered through the physical burden of the tumor, tolerance mechanisms, and local factors within the tumor microenvironment. Recently, accumulating evidence has suggested that combining a peptide-based therapeutic vaccination with conventional chemotherapy can uncover the full potential of the antitumor immune response, increasing the success of immunotherapy. In addition, therapeutic vaccination in the preventive setting has been extremely effective in eliciting antitumor responses in preclinical tumor models and has demonstrated good promise clinically in patients with minimal residual disease. The rationale behind preventive vaccination is that patients with minimal tumor burden still have a fully competent immune system capable of developing robust antitumor responses. Finally, therapeutic CD8-positive T-cell peptide vaccines have been improved by coimmunization with T-helper epitopes expressed on long peptides.
(c) 2010 American Cancer Society.