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Keywords:

  • T-cells;
  • tumor immunity;
  • cancer vaccines;
  • adoptive cell transfer therapy;
  • immune monitoring;
  • adjuvants

Summary

Worldwide incidence of malignant melanoma has been constantly increasing during the last years. Surgical excision is effective when primary tumours are thin. At later disease stages patients often succumb, due to failure of metastasis control. Therefore, great efforts have been made to develop improved strategies to treat metastatic melanoma patients. In the search for novel treatments during the last two decades, immunotherapy has occupied a prominent place. Numerous early phase immunotherapy clinical trials, generally involving small numbers of patients each time, have been reported: significant tumour-specific immune responses could often be measured in patients upon treatments. However, clinical responses remain at a dismal low rate. In some anecdotal cases, objective clinical benefit was more frequently observed among immune responders than immune non-responders. This clearly calls for a better understanding of protective immunity against tumours as well as the cross talk taking place between tumours and the immune system. Here we discuss advances and limitations of specific immunotherapy against human melanoma in the light of the literature from the last 5 yr.