Abnormal expression of "self" antigens on tumors compared with normal cells provides opportunities and challenges for development of cancer vaccines. We review recent work in pre-clinical transgenic mouse models and in clinical trials that has elucidated multiple regulatory mechanisms that interfere with the induction of effective immunity. We discuss these as being either part of the normal function of the immune system or being driven by the tumor microenvironment. Collectively this work shows that it is possible to design vaccines based on tumor-associated antigens and elicit effective immunity against abnormal expression of these antigens on tumors without causing autoimmunity.
Copyright 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd.