Therapeutic Cancer Vaccines: An Emerging Approach to Cancer Treatment

  • Ravi A. Madan
  • Theresa A. Ferrara
  • James L. Gulley
Part of the Cancer Drug Discovery and Development book series (CDD&D)


In the late 1990s, monoclonal antibodies and targeted molecular inhibitors revolutionized treatment options for patients with cancer. Since their development, outcomes for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Her-2+ breast cancer, among others, have significantly improved. While these anticancer agents continue to evolve, therapeutic cancer vaccines could be the next major therapeutic advance for cancer patients. Immunotherapy is already an accepted treatment for some cancers. BCG is a standard treatment for localized bladder cancer, while interferon alpha and interleukin-2 (IL-2) are used to treat melanoma and renal cell cancer. These nonspecific types of immunotherapy induce a broad immunologic response that may have an antitumor effect in a minority of patients. However, therapeutic cancer vaccines that can induce a specific, targeted antitumor immune response are currently in clinical development. Therapeutic cancer vaccines in metastatic prostate cancer have demonstrated overall survival advantages relative to placebo in multiple phase II and III trials, and there are compelling data for the clinical benefit of therapeutic cancer vaccines in other cancer types. Additional strategies are being investigated that employ combinations of vaccines and standard therapeutics, including hormonal therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy, in an effort to optimize the effects of vaccines.


Therapeutic vaccine Immunotherapy Combination therapy Clinical trials 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ravi A. Madan
    • 1
  • Theresa A. Ferrara
    • 1
  • James L. Gulley
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and BiologyNational Cancer Institute, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.BethesdaUSA

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