Breathing new life into immunotherapy: review of melanoma, lung and kidney cancer

Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2014 Jan;11(1):24-37. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2013.208. Epub 2013 Nov 19.


Previously, clinical approaches to using the immune system against cancer focused on vaccines that intended to specifically initiate or amplify a host response against evolving tumours. Although vaccine approaches have had some clinical success, most cancer vaccines fail to induce objective tumour shrinkage in patients. More-recent approaches have centred on a series of molecules known as immune checkpoints-whose natural function is to restrain or dampen a potentially over-exuberant response. Blocking immune checkpoint molecules with monoclonal antibodies has emerged as a viable clinical strategy that mediates tumour shrinkage in several cancer types. In addition to being part of the current treatment armamentarium for metastatic melanoma, immune checkpoint blockade is currently undergoing phase III testing in several cancer types.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Prognosis


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Immunologic Factors