The ReNAissanCe of mRNA-based Cancer Therapy

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2015 Feb;14(2):235-51. doi: 10.1586/14760584.2015.957685. Epub 2014 Sep 29.


About 25 years ago, mRNA became a tool of interest in anticancer vaccination approaches. However, due to its rapid degradation in situ, direct application of mRNA was confronted with considerable skepticism during its early use. Consequently, mRNA was for a long time mainly used for the ex vivo transfection of dendritic cells, professional antigen-presenting cells known to stimulate immunity. The interest in direct application of mRNA experienced a revival, as researchers became aware of the many advantages mRNA offers. Today, mRNA is considered to be an ideal vehicle for the induction of strong immune responses against cancer. The growing numbers of preclinical trials and as a consequence the increasing clinical application of mRNA as an off-the-shelf anticancer vaccine signifies a renaissance for transcript-based antitumor therapy. In this review, we highlight this renaissance using a timeline providing all milestones in the application of mRNA for anticancer vaccination.

Keywords: cancer; dendritic cell; immunotherapy; mRNA; vaccine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • RNA, Messenger / immunology*
  • Vaccination*
  • Vaccines, DNA / administration & dosage*
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vaccines, DNA