Immunotherapies seek to increase the activity or effectiveness of T-cells and increase T cell cancer targeting specificity (Drake et al 2014). This can be done by the administering of a vaccine that contains a cancer specific antigen to the body, this in turn activates DC cells that recruit and activate T-cells that recognise the cancer specific antigens (Drake et al 2014). The affects of vaccines to induce more T-cell activity have been found to be effective in some cancer types but not all as the expression of immune checkpoints greatly reduce treatment effectiveness (Drake et al 2014). Antibody suppression of immune checkpoints, so they no longer interfere with endogenous T-cells, has been shown to be an effective treatment in melanoma cancer in large scale clinical trials. (Drake et al 2014). Another method of immunotherapy is the genetic modification of existing T-cells to target cancer specific antigens, this is done by viral transfection of engineered antigen receptor genes to endogenous T-cells (Drake et al 2014). An alternative to this method is ACT treatment a process by which endogenous T-cells are harvested and selected in vitro for cancer cell binding specificity, then raised in culture and reintroduced in vivo to the patient (Rosenberg 2014).These methods are necessary in many cancer types as relatively few endogenous T-cells have receptors for cancer specific antigens thus making other treatments like vaccines and immune checkpoint therapy ineffective (Drake et al 2014). While immunotherapies are a promising addition to traditional cancer treatments they face one major obstacle, the lack of Identified cancer specific antigens (Drake et al 2014). To further immunotherapy as a treatment option more cancer specific antigens must be discovered (Drake et al 2014).
Drake CG, Lipson EJ, and Brahmer JR. 2014. Breathing new life into immunotherapy: review of melanoma, lung and kidney cancer. Nature Review 11: 24-37. <http://www.nature.com/nrclinonc/journal/v11/n1/full/nrclinonc.2013.208.html>.
Rosenberg SA. 2014. Decade in review—cancer immunotherapy: Entering the mainstream of cancer treatment. Nature Review 11: 630-632. <http://www.nature.com/nrclinonc/journal/v11/n11/full/nrclinonc.2014.174.html>.