Cancer is characterized by an accumulation of somatic mutations that represent a source of neoantigens for targeting by antigen-specific T cells. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has a relatively high mutation burden across all cancer types, and cellular immunity to neoantigens likely plays a key role in HNSCC clinical outcomes. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) have brought new treatment options and hopes to patients with recurrent and/or metastatic HNSCC. However, many patients do not benefit from CPI therapies, highlighting the need for novel immunotherapy or combinatorial strategies. One such approach is personalized cancer vaccination targeting tumor-associated antigens and tumor-specific antigens, either as single agents or in combination with other therapies. Recent advances in next-generation genomic sequencing technologies and computational algorithms have enabled efficient identification of somatic mutation-derived neoantigens and are anticipated to facilitate the development of cancer vaccine strategies. Here, we review cancer vaccine approaches against HNSCC, including fundamental mechanisms of a cancer vaccine, considerations for selecting appropriate antigens, and combination therapies.
Keywords: cancer vaccine therapy; clinical trial; head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; tumor-associated antigen; tumor-specific antigen.
© 2020 The Authors. Cancer Science published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japanese Cancer Association.