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Tumor-associated antigens characterized in a conceptual framework of biology, microenvironment, and therapy 

Tumor-associated antigens characterized in a conceptual framework of biology, microenvironment, and therapy
Chapter:
Tumor-associated antigens characterized in a conceptual framework of biology, microenvironment, and therapy
Author(s):

Per thor Straten

, David Schrama

, Jürgen C Becker

, and Mads Hald Andersen

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199676866.003.0013
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date: 30 June 2022

Harnessing of the immune system for the battle against cancer has been the focus of tremendous research efforts over the past two decades. Multiple means to achieve this goal, including adoptive transfer of anti-tumor-reactive T cells, systemic or localized administration of immune modulating cytokines, and the use of ‘therapeutic’ vaccines have been scrutinized. The latter aims at inducing cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific for tumor-associated antigens presented by cancer cells in the context of HLA molecules. Surprisingly, until recently only limited attention has been focused on elucidating the most suitable targets for induction of clinically relevant anti-cancer immune responses. Although a large number of antigens have been characterized to date, it appears that we have so far only revealed the tip of the iceberg. However, future efforts should focus on antigens or groups of antigens that conceptually incorporate biological and clinical knowledge. Overall, the synergistic effects of conventional and immunological therapies necessitate re-thinking of the clinical strategies not only with respect to the chosen chemotherapeutics, but also considering design of the selected immunotherapy. In this respect, targeting of proteins that are important for survival and growth of cancer cells seems to be promising as a universal anti-tumor vaccine, which synergistically boosts the effects of conventional cytotoxic therapies.

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