Therapeutic cancer vaccines, which stimulate the body's immune system to target and destroy cancer cells, are being used in combination with conventional chemotherapy with growing success, as described in several illuminating articles in Cancer Biotherapy and Radiopharmaceuticals, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (http://www.liebertpub.com). These articles are available free online at http://www.liebertpub.com/cbr
The U.S. FDA recently approved the first cancer therapeutic vaccine for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. At least 14 other cancer vaccine strategies are in Phase II or III clinical trials for metastatic melanoma, lung cancer, and lymphoma, for example.
A critical perspective, "Recent Advances in Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines," (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cbr.2012.1200) published in the Journal by Jeffrey Schlom, PhD, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD explains that a key advantage of cancer vaccines used in combination with chemotherapy is the extremely low level of toxicity. "The next frontier for vaccine therapy will be the use of vaccines in combination with certain chemotherapeutic agents, radiation, hormone therapy, and certain small molecule targeted therapies," according to Dr. Schlom.
These emerging areas of cancer vaccine therapy are explored in detail in two accompanying research reports by Dr. Schlom's colleagues at NCI/NIH. James Hodge, Hadley Sharp, and Sofia Gameiro describe how a tumor-targeted vaccine can enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy on cancer growth and spread beyond the primary tumor in the article "Abscopal Regression of Antigen Disparate Tumors by Antigen Cascade After Systemic Tumor Vaccination in Combination with Local Tumor Radiation." (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cbr.2012.1202) Drs. Hodge and Gameiro and coauthor Jorge Caballero present the molecular signatures of lung tumor cells that can be made more susceptible to immunotherapy when first exposed to chemotherapeutic agents in the article "Defining the Molecular Signature of Chemotherapy-Mediated Lung Tumor Phenotype Modulation and Increased Susceptibility to T-cell Killing." (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cbr.2012.1203)
"This perspective and promising research reports are from one of the leading vaccine research laboratories in the world," says Co-Editor-in-Chief Donald J. Buchsbaum, PhD, Division of Radiation Biology, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Alabama at Birmingham. "The ultimate use of cancer vaccines in combination with other immunotherapies, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy will be based on preclinical investigations and hopefully will produce clinical survival benefit for a range of cancers."