The past decade has seen tremendous developments in novel cancer therapies through the targeting of tumor-cell-intrinsic pathways whose activity is linked to genetic alterations and the targeting of tumor-cell-extrinsic factors, such as growth factors. Furthermore, immunotherapies are entering the clinic at an unprecedented speed after the demonstration that T cells can efficiently reject tumors and that their antitumor activity can be enhanced with antibodies against immune-regulatory molecules (checkpoint blockade). Current immunotherapy strategies include monoclonal antibodies against tumor cells or immune-regulatory molecules, cell-based therapies such as adoptive transfer of ex-vivo-activated T cells and natural killer cells, and cancer vaccines. Herein, we discuss the immunological basis for therapeutic cancer vaccines and how the current understanding of dendritic cell and T cell biology might enable the development of next-generation curative therapies for individuals with cancer.
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