The journey from discoveries in fundamental immunology to cancer immunotherapy

Cancer Cell. 2015 Apr 13;27(4):439-49. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2015.03.007. Epub 2015 Apr 6.


Recent advances in cancer immunotherapy have directly built on 50 years of fundamental and technological advances that made checkpoint blockade and T cell engineering possible. In this review, we intend to show that research, not specifically designed to bring relief or cure to any particular disease, can, when creatively exploited, lead to spectacular results in the management of cancer. The discovery of thymus immune function, T cells, and immune surveillance bore the seeds for today's targeted immune interventions and chimeric antigen receptors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergy and Immunology*
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Surveillance
  • Immunotherapy / trends*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Research*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Thymus Gland / immunology


  • Cancer Vaccines