Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 203–216 | Cite as

Chemoimmunotherapy: reengineering tumor immunity

  • Gang Chen
  • Leisha A. EmensEmail author


Cancer chemotherapy drugs have long been considered immune suppressive. However, more recent data indicate that some cytotoxic drugs effectively treat cancer in part by facilitating an immune response to the tumor when given at the standard dose and schedule. These drugs induce a form of tumor cell death that is immunologically active, thereby inducing an adaptive immune response specific for the tumor. In addition, cancer chemotherapy drugs can promote tumor immunity through ancillary and largely unappreciated immunologic effects on both the malignant and normal host cells present within the tumor microenvironment. These more subtle immunomodulatory effects are dependent on the drug itself, its dose, and its schedule in relation to an immune-based intervention. The recent approvals of two new immune-based therapies for prostate cancer and melanoma herald a new era in cancer treatment and have led to heightened interest in immunotherapy as a valid approach to cancer treatment. A detailed understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of interactions between chemotherapy drugs and the immune system is essential for devising the optimal strategy for integrating new immune-based therapies into the standard of care for various cancers, resulting in the greatest long-term clinical benefit for cancer patients.


Chemotherapy Cyclophosphamide Vaccine Immunotherapy Chemoimmunotherapy Clinical trials 



This work was supported by the Department of Defense (Clinical Translational Research Award W81XWH-07-1-0485), the American Cancer Society (RSG CCE 112685), the Specialized Programs in Research Excellence (SPORE) in Breast Cancer (P50CA88843), Genentech Incorporated, the Gateway Foundation, the Avon Foundation, and the V Foundation.

Conflict of interest

Dr. Emens receives research funding from Genentech, Incorporated, and has received honoraria for participating on regional advisory panels for Genentech, Incorporated, Roche Incorporated, and Bristol Myers Squibb, Incorporated. Under a licensing agreement between Biosante, Incorporated and the Johns Hopkins University, the University is entitled to milestone payments and royalty on sales of the GM-CSF-secreting breast cancer vaccine. The terms of these arrangements are being managed by the Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies. Dr. Chen has no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer CenterJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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