Date: 31 May 2014

Optimized dendritic cell-based immunotherapy for melanoma: the TriMix-formula

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Abstract

Since decades, the main goal of tumor immunologists has been to increase the capacity of the immune system to mediate tumor regression. In this regard, one of the major focuses of cancer immunotherapy has been the design of vaccines promoting strong tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses in cancer patients. Here, dendritic cells (DCs) play a pivotal role as they are regarded as nature’s adjuvant and as such have become the natural agents for antigen delivery in order to finally elicit strong T cell responses (Villadangos and Schnorrer in Nat Rev Immunol 7:543–555, 2007; Melief in Immunity 29:372–383, 2008; Palucka and Banchereau in Nat Rev Cancer 12:265–277, 2012; Vacchelli et al. in Oncoimmunology 2:e25771, 2013; Galluzzi et al. in Oncoimmunology 1:1111–1134, 2012). Therefore, many investigators are actively pursuing the use of DCs as an efficient way of inducing anticancer immune responses. Nowadays, DCs can be generated at a large scale in closed systems, yielding sufficient numbers of cells for clinical application. In addition, with the identification of tumor-associated antigens, which are either selectively or preferentially expressed by tumors, a whole range of strategies using DCs for immunotherapy have been designed and tested in clinical studies. Despite the evidence that DCs loaded with tumor-associated antigens can elicit immune responses in vivo, clinical responses remained disappointingly low. Therefore, optimization of the cellular product and route of administration was urgently needed. Here, we review the path we have followed in the development of TriMixDC-MEL, a potent DC-based cellular therapy, discussing its development as well as further modifications and applications.

Sandra Van Lint and Sofie Wilgenhof contributed equally to this work.
This paper is a Focussed Research Review based on a presentation given at the 19th Danish Cancer Society Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark, 23rd–25th September 2013, on the topic “Immunotherapy of Cancer—Present Status and Future Promise”. It is part of a CII series of Focussed Research Reviews and meeting report.