Importance of the field: Cancer is still a largely unmet medical need and the leading cause of death in industrialised countries. The general consensus of scientists is that therapeutic cancer vaccines will become a reality. Overall, the cancer treatment market continues to grow and this demand sets the stage for vaccine products. In parallel, the intellectual property literature in this field has grown over the past years and new avenues are being explored.
Areas covered in this review: Over 200 patents issued in the last 4 years have been evaluated and a part of them selected and commented on.
What the reader will gain: Significant advances have been made with modified peptide vaccines, engineering of tumour associated antigens, the development of novel vaccination technologies and evaluation of new adjuvants. Novel tumour associated antigens and stromal antigens are under development. Several approaches are at early stages of clinical evaluation and hold promise for further progresses.
Take home message: Even though few specific products are currently available on the market, cancer vaccines have the potential to offer long-term survival to cancer patients in the near future. However, it is also clear that cancer vaccines will never be a 'stand alone' therapy, but will need to be combined with standard therapies and immunomodulators.