, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 967-974,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Harnessing the antigenic fingerprint of each individual cancer for immunotherapy of human cancer: genomics shows a new way and its challenges

Abstract

The idea that individual tumors are antigenically unique has been around since the very dawn of our recognition of adaptive immune response to tumors. That idea has inspired a small number of attempts at individualized immunotherapy of human cancers. Such previous attempts for solid tumors have been hobbled by an inability to define the individually unique antigenic repertoire of tumors because of technological difficulties. The new availability of rapid and cheap high throughput DNA sequencing promises to overcome that hurdle. Using this new ability, coupled with bio-informatic tools, it is now possible to define the immunogenic repertoire of any tumor to a high degree of granularity within a practical time frame and an acceptable cost. The development of these ideas, and a small number of such studies that underscore this promise, is discussed. This new way—of characterizing the tumor immunome through characterization of the tumor genome—has distinct challenges, including selection of the appropriate peptides, choosing methods of immunizations that can incorporate tens of epitopes, and addressing issues of antigenic heterogeneity of tumors. However, tools for meeting these challenges exist and are emergent.

This paper is a Focussed Research Review based on a presentation given at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT), held in Mainz, Germany, 23rd–25th May, 2012. It is part of a CII series of Focussed Research Reviews and meeting report.