Neo approaches to cancer vaccines

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Science  15 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6236, pp. 760-761
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3465

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The recent success of cancer immunotherapies is rapidly changing the face of both cancer care and cancer biology. The excitement has been driven by various antibodies that block so-called “immune checkpoints” to enhance antitumor immune responses (1). Although this approach has produced durable responses for patients across a variety of tumor types, it is also the case that only a minority of patients benefit from these agents. It seems likely that among patients who do not respond or respond poorly to immunotherapies, there will be individuals who lack preexisting antitumor T cell responses. In principle, this situation can be addressed with antitumor vaccines, a strategy that has yet to yield much success despite decades of effort. The recent finding that tumor-specific mutations (neoantigens) may drive potent antitumor responses has provided hope and prompted renewed interest in the field (2). On page 803 of this issue, Carreno et al. (3) report, in a first proof of concept study, that CD8 T cell responses to tumor neoantigens can be enhanced through vaccination in melanoma patients.