This whitepaper describes the great promise of personalised cancer vaccination alongside its challenges.
The main advantages of cancer vaccination comprise the absence of severe side effects and its potency to induce a memory response. The latter can provide the patient with prolonged protection, even after treatment, possibly protecting the patient against relapse and metastasis. This is considered to be a huge advantage as the majority of the cancer death-rate is caused by metastasis and relapse rather than the primary tumour. Relapsed tumours are harder-to-treat due to obtained resistance and increased aggressive growth.
Nevertheless, the promise of one-fits-all cancer vaccines has been negated by the unfortunate discrepancy between the many highly encouraging preclinical data and the disappointing clinical results. Multiple clinical trials have failed to prove survival benefit involving the gp100 vaccine, the GVAX vaccine, and the MAGE-3 vaccine, among others. This can be likely attributed to two main issues, i.e. suboptimal vaccine design and the immune-suppressive tumour microenvironment (vide infra). These insights have led to the design of optimised, personalised vaccines and highly promising clinical results