Personalized cancer vaccines: adjuvants are important, too

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018 Dec;67(12):1911-1918. doi: 10.1007/s00262-018-2158-4. Epub 2018 Apr 11.


Therapeutic cancer vaccines have shown limited clinical efficacy so far. Nevertheless, in the meantime, our understanding of immune cell function and the interactions of immune cells with growing tumors has advanced considerably. We are now in a position to invest this knowledge into the design of more powerful vaccines and therapy combinations aimed at increasing immunogenicity and decreasing tumor-induced immunosuppression. This review focuses essentially on peptide-based human vaccines. We will discuss two aspects that are critical for increasing their intrinsic immunogenicity: the selection of the antigen(s) to be targeted, and the as yet unmet need for strong adjuvants.

Keywords: Adjuvant; CITIM2017; Cancer; Clinical trial; Peptide; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine / immunology
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Precision Medicine* / methods
  • Vaccines, Subunit / immunology
  • Vaccines, Subunit / therapeutic use


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Subunit