Vaccination for Treatment and Prevention of Cancer in Animal Models

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Two approaches to immunological intervention in tumor–host interactions in mouse models are discussed in this review. The first is described with reference to experiments in which CD8+ T lymphocytes are used to kill established transplantable tumors. Peptides and their optimal presentation by dendritic cells and intervention in immune regulatory mechanisms are the key issues for efficient induction of T‐killer cell‐mediated tumor eradication. The time frame of tumor therapy and the threat imposed by tumor growth in transplantable models and cancer patients require the induction of a robust T‐cell reaction. Prevention of the progression of small preneoplastic lesions, on the other hand, requires the significant and prolonged immune protection sought in the second approach. This is based on antibody production and the coordinated activation of multiple low‐avidity cell‐mediated mechanisms elicited by DNA vaccination in genetically modified cancer‐prone mice, transgenic for a mutant Her‐2/neu growth factor receptor expressed at the plasma membrane surface of preneoplastic mammary gland epithelial cells. Vaccination with appropriate DNA formulations results in prolonged immune inhibition of the progression of preneoplastic mammary lesions but is ineffective against established tumors. The use of molecularly defined adjuvants and intervention in immune regulatory mechanisms are critical in both the elicitation of an effective T‐cell mediated reaction required for tumor debulking in the first set of models and the induction by vaccination of a sustained immune memory able to prevent the expansion of preneoplastic lesions in genetically cancer‐prone mice.