Taming cancer by inducing immunity via dendritic cells


A. Karolina Palucka
Baylor Institute for Immunology Research and Baylor Research Institute
3434 Live Oak
Dallas, TX 75204, USA
Tel.: +1 214 820 9917
Fax: +1 214 820 4813
e-mail: karolinp@baylorhealth.edu


Summary: Immunotherapy seeks to mobilize a patient's immune system for therapeutic benefit. It can be passive, i.e. transfer of immune effector cells (T cells) or proteins (antibodies), or active, i.e. vaccination. In cancer, passive immunotherapy can lead to some objective clinical responses, thus demonstrating that the immune system can reject tumors. However, passive immunotherapy is not expected to yield long-lived memory T cells that might control tumor outgrowth. Active immunotherapy with dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccines has the potential to induce both tumor-specific effector and memory T cells. Early clinical trials testing vaccination with ex vivo-generated DCs pulsed with tumor antigens provide a proof-of-principle that therapeutic immunity can be elicited. Yet, there is a need to improve their efficacy. The next generation of DC vaccines is expected to generate large numbers of high-avidity effector CD8+ T cells and to overcome regulatory T cells. Therapeutic vaccination protocols will combine improved ex vivo DC vaccines with therapies that offset the suppressive environment established by tumors.