Emerging Immunotherapies for Cancer and Their Potential for Application in Pediatric Oncology

Crit Rev Oncog. 2015;20(3-4):315-27. doi: 10.1615/critrevoncog.2015013861.


After decades of basic research, immune-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancer are showing evidence of efficacy in clinical trials; several immunotherapeutics already incorporated into standard treatment regimens. Intensive research is underway to improve the efficacy of immunotherapeutics and to expand the application of immunotherapy to a wider array of cancers. The therapeutic options that comprise immunotherapy for cancer are vast and span monoclonal antibodies, tumor vaccines, adoptive cellular therapies, as well as therapies aimed at reversing immunosuppression and enhancing immune reactivity globally and/or locally within the tumor microenvironment. In pediatric cancer, monoclonal antibodies have demonstrated efficacy in hematologic malignancies, and neuroblastoma and bispecific antibodies that activate resident T cells, as well as adoptive cell therapy, have shown recent exciting results for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in childhood. This review discusses the basic principles of tumor immunology driving clinical development of new immunotherapies, describes immunotherapeutics with demonstrated efficacy and several currently in clinical trials, and highlight agents that seem to be most promising for the treatment of pediatric cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer / methods
  • Adoptive Transfer / trends*
  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Therapy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Immunotherapy / trends
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Medical Oncology / trends*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Cancer Vaccines