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Recent advances in the development of breast cancer vaccines

Authors Milani A, Sangiolo D, Aglietta M, Valabrega G

Received 3 June 2014

Accepted for publication 4 August 2014

Published 14 October 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 159—168


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Pranela Rameshwar

Andrea Milani,1 Dario Sangiolo,1 Massimo Aglietta,1,2 Giorgio Valabrega1,2

1Department of Oncology, University of Torino, Torino, Italy; 2FPO, Candiolo Cancer Institute, IRCCS, Torino, Italy

Abstract: The manipulation of the immune system through the administration of a vaccine to direct an effective and long-lasting immune response against breast cancer (BC) cells is an attractive strategy. Vaccines would have several theoretical advantages over standard therapies, including low toxicities, high specificity, and long-lasting efficacy due to the establishment of immunological memory. However, BC vaccines have failed to demonstrate meaningful results in clinical trials so far. This reflects the intrinsic difficulty in breaking the complex immune-escaping mechanisms developed by cancer cells. New vaccines should be able to elicit complex immunologic response involving multiple immune effectors such as cytotoxic and antibody-secreting B cells, innate immunity effectors, and memory cells. Moreover, especially in patients with large tumor burdens and metastatic disease, combining vaccines with other strategies, such as systemic BC therapies, passive immunotherapy, or immunomodulatory agents, could increase the effectiveness of each approach. Here, we review recent advances in BC vaccines, focusing on suitable targets and innovative strategies. We report results of most recent trials investigating active immunotherapy in BC and provide possible future perspectives in this field of research.

Keywords: breast cancer, cancer vaccines, cancer immunology, HER2, MUC-1, hTERT

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