Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy in Cancer Patients

  • Reinhard Marks
  • Roland MertelsmannEmail author
Part of the Advances in Biochemistry in Health and Disease book series (ABHD, volume 16)


Immunotherapy as a strategy for the treatment of cancer has experienced a major breakthrough in the recent years. Starting in the nineteenth century with the first observations by Rudolf Virchow suggesting a link between cancer and inflammation, thoroughly exploration of the immune systems cellular and humoral components together with their molecular mechanisms of activation and responses have paved the way for a deeper understanding of the immunological anti-tumor reactivity. In particular, insights into the mutual interaction between tumor growth and modulation of immune cell activation became of major impact for cancer treatment. Translation of this knowledge into the clinic resulted in a plethora of immunotherapy approaches. In this regard, tumor-specific vaccination, the use of cytokines or adoptive transfer of T cells aimed for direct augmentation of anti-tumor responses. Another approach uses the reversal of tumor induced T cell unresponsiveness by interference with T cell checkpoint inhibitors and their ligands. Especially the latter strategy resulted in until then unobserved tumor control rates in metastatic melanoma, lung cancer and other solid organ tumors. Additional advances could be achieved in redirection of T cells to tumor targets using genetic modification of T cell receptors or a new generation of antibody constructs, with impressive longterm results in hematological malignancies. Therefore, immunotherapy for cancer has been developed from an experimental approach to a new pillar of treatment for malignant diseases.


Cancer and inflammation Immunological anti-tumor response T cell response Melanoma Lung cancer Solid tumors Antibody constructs Cancer immunothrapy 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hematology/OncologyUniversity Medical CenterFreiburgGermany

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