Immunotherapeutic strategies: the melanoma example

Immunotherapy. 2009 Jul;1(4):679-90. doi: 10.2217/imt.09.20.


T-cell-based immunotherapy can be induced by nonspecific activation, by antigen-specific immunization, or by adoptive immunotherapy. In this review, progress in these areas is discussed as based on data from clinical trials for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Nonspecific immunotherapy has been shown to result in low, but in some cases significant, levels of objective tumor responses, and is often associated with autoimmune reactions. Antigen-specific targeting of tumors via vaccination has only resulted in low to very low levels of objective responses, and these strategies seem to have most value when the T-cell repertoire is not affected by tolerance. Finally, adoptive immunotherapy can be applied by in vitro expansion of autologous lymphocytes that have escaped tolerance or by genetic transfer of allogeneic T-cell receptors (TCRs). Autologous adoptive T-cell transfer has resulted in a very high frequency of clinical responses when combined with chemotherapy and IL-2 administration in single-center studies. Although TCR gene transfer has, until now, only resulted in a low frequency of clinical responses, it does have a broader application potential, and optimization of this strategy is likely to improve its efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Therapy
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Transgenes / genetics


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta